Disparities in the incidence rates of melanoma in black and Hispanic individuals in Florida, as compared with national estimates, suggests an emerging public health concern in race/ethnic subgroups that were previously understudied, according to data published in Archives of Dermatology (2010;146:741-746)
Panta Rouhani, PhD, MPH, of the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, led the study, which evaluated 109,633 patients with melanoma. The researchers compared the melanoma incidence in the Florida Cancer Data System of 36,427 patients with the national estimates from 73,206 patients included in the NCI's SEER database between 1992 and 2004.
The incidence of melanoma among Hispanic males was 20% higher in Florida than in the SEER registries, and female non-Hispanic black individuals in Florida had a 60% higher incidence of the disease than did the same population in the SEER registries.
Conversely, Hispanic female patients in Florida were 30% less likely to develop melanoma than those in the SEER database.
“Although causation of melanoma among nonwhites cannot be inferred from descriptive data, we believe that the observed trends in Florida are, in part, attributable to UVR exposure. The high UV index of Florida may potentially explain the higher incidence pattern in nonwhite Floridians compared with their nonwhite counterparts in the SEER catchment areas,” the authors wrote.
This hypothesis, however, does not explain the lower incidence rates of melanoma that were observed among non-Hispanic white Floridians, they added.
The authors said they hope that the analysis of ethnic disparities in melanoma will prompt public health initiatives, adding that “the development of educational campaigns on sun safety and skin cancer awareness should be tailored to the unique needs of Florida.”