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New Cases of Melanoma Among Hispanics in the United States

Although white people have the highest risk, Hispanics can get melanoma skin cancer.

Few studies have focused on Hispanic people’s risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Hispanics are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States, and are expected to make up one-third of the U.S. population by 2060. So it is important to understand their risk for melanoma and to look at trends in new melanoma cases over time. Everyone, including Hispanics, can get melanoma from too much exposure to the sun or from indoor tanning.

This study looked at risk for melanoma among Hispanics, the types of melanoma they get, where the cancer was found on the body, and clinical factors like stage at diagnosis and tumor thickness, which show how severe the cancer was. The study used data collected by state cancer registries participating in CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. These two programs together covered 99% of the U.S. population during 2008 to 2012.

Key Findings

  • Melanoma is relatively rare among Hispanics.
  • Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics were diagnosed with melanoma at a younger median age, and had more advanced, thicker tumors.
  • Older Hispanic men had a much higher risk of getting melanomas in parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun, such as the bottoms of the feet or nailbeds, than Hispanic women of the same age.
  • Older Hispanic men also often had melanomas on the head and neck, possibly because these parts of the body are often exposed to the sun.

Public health workers and health care providers will need to explain to Hispanics in culturally relevant and appealing ways how to prevent melanoma and find it early, when it is easiest to treat. Hispanics and health care providers need to learn about the characteristics of melanoma among Hispanics, including types that occur on parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun. Practicing sun safety and avoiding indoor tanning can reduce risk for melanoma.

Citation

Garnett E, Townsend J, Steele B, Watson M. Characteristics, rates, and trends of melanoma incidence among Hispanics in the USA. Cancer Causes and Control 2016.

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