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Malignant Melanoma in Non-Hispanic Black Patients

Malignant melanoma is the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Although black people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma less often than members of other racial groups, the cancer is often more advanced at diagnosis, and black people are more likely to die from the disease. This study describes where malignant melanoma is found most often among non-Hispanic black patients, which may help doctors find this deadly cancer earlier.

The study used cancer registry data covering 79.5% of the United States population. This is the first population-based study to look at where on the body malignant melanoma occurs in non-Hispanic black people.


From 1998 to 2007, 1,439 black people (592 men and 847 women) were diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It was found most often on the lower limbs (58.9%) and hips (16.5%) for both male and female black patients. About one-fourth of these diagnoses were on the feet.

  • 312 men and 536 women had malignant melanoma on the hips, legs, or feet.
  • 120 men and 118 women had malignant melanoma on the chest, stomach, or back.
  • 81 men and 100 women had malignant melanoma on the shoulders, arms, or hands.
  • 79 men and 93 women had malignant melanoma on the head, face, or neck.

An editorial about the paper pointed out that people who thought they had a low risk of getting malignant melanoma were less likely to go to a doctor when they had signs of the disease. It said that doctors and patients should recognize signs of melanoma in people of all ethnicities so they can be treated early, when treatment works best.

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