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Science Olympiad» Disease Detectives Event » National Event Exercises
Skin Cancer Module: Practice Exercises

Skin Cancer: Module 14
General Questions

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Question 1: Think about what you have learned about SEER and about skin cancer. Do you think we can generalize from SEER data about the population of the United States as a whole? How about your state? Your city, town, or county? Your neighborhood?

Answer: Answers may vary, but should show understanding of the following: The SEER program includes 5 states and 6 urban areas. These represent about 14 percent of the U.S. population. You can estimate national rates based on this information. You may or may not be able to generalize it to a particular state, city, or neighborhood. This is because different regions may have different population distributions. These differences may include social and money status, age, culture, habits, and race. There may also be other outside factors affecting melanoma rates for the area. An outside factor may include having a particular doctor who is more likely to diagnose the cancer than in other areas.

 

Question 2: The figures and tables above only present data on melanoma in white people. Why do you think this is so? (Base your answer on what you know about risk factors for melanoma.) How do you think the results would be different if they included other racial or ethnic groups?

Answer: Only data for whites are presented because the risk of melanoma is much higher in whites than in other ethnic/racial groups. We can see how bad the problem is for the highest-risk group by highlighting data in that group. This can help us target prevention efforts to those at highest risk. The figures would show much lower incidence and mortality rates if data from all racial groups were included.

 

Question 3: How do age-adjusted rates of melanoma vary among different racial groups? Was this what you expected? Base your answer on what you have learned about the risk factors for skin cancer.

Answer: Age-adjusted melanoma rates are much lower for blacks than for whites. This is based on the melanin pigment differences.

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This page last reviewed August 27, 2004

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