For the first time, scientists have identified a significant increase in the incidence rate of melanoma--an invasive form of an already deadly skin cancer--among California Hispanics. A new study published in the March 1, 2006 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, finds in contrast to non-Hispanic Caucasians, increases in melanoma in Hispanics have been confined to thicker lesions, which have a poorer prognosis.
While melanoma accounts for a minority of skin cancers, it is responsible for the great majority of skin cancer deaths. As a general rule, the deeper the cancer has penetrated into the layers of the skin, the higher the risk of death. The major risk factors for melanoma are fair skin and a history of significant sun exposure. California and Central America are regions of intense sun exposure. While fair skinned, non-Hispanic whites have long been considered the racial group at highest risk, little is known about the incidence of melanoma among Hispanics, the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the State, which has among the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
In the first study to examine the incidence of melanoma rates among California Hispanics over time, Myles G. Cockburn, Ph.D. of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and colleagues compared melanoma trends and melanoma-related mortality data between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites in California.
Amy Molnar | EurekAlert!
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