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Study Shows That Black Men Are At A Higher Risk Of Dying From Melanoma

Melanoma skin cancer support

When it comes to melanoma, Black men are at a higher risk of death than any other race, according to a study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD).

What is cutaneous melanoma? It’s a form of cancer that starts in pigment-producing cells, and it is the most aggressive and fatal type of skin cancer, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The five-year survival rate was the lowest for Black men at 51.7%, according to a case study of 205,125 male patients with cutaneous invasive melanoma from 2004 to 2018, according to NBC News. The rate of survival was the highest for white men at 75.1%, which is compared to other racial groups in the study.

While white men are more likely to get melanoma, the study proved that Black folks have a 26% higher risk of death from melanoma than the white population.

Although gender and race are both predictors of survival in folks diagnosed with melanoma, less is known about the role race plays specifically among men, which is what the study explored.

Still, it isn’t clear the factors that contribute to an increased mortality risk for Black men with melanoma. But the study did find that Black men were less likely to have private insurance, and men were less likely to look for medical care than women, which can result in men being diagnosed at a later stage, according to Ashley Wysong, the chair of the department of the dermatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a co-author of the study.

“Even after accounting for later stages at diagnosis, men still have worse overall survival rates than women with melanoma, so we suspect that there are some unmeasured social, genetic, tumor-specific and potentially biological factors at play, such as hormones and the way the immune system responds to melanoma tumors,” Wysong said.

Melanoma patients who have darker skin can a lot of times mistake their cancer for various other skin conditions, which “can also delay care and definitive treatment,” Wysong added.

For years -- and still to this day -- racial disparities have placed Black patients at a disadvantage, with racial bias as a major contributor.

According to a 2019 study published in Science, it was found that evidence in racial bias in an algorithm “used by health care providers affects the amount of money spent on Black patients and also labels Black patients as healthier, though both parties are equally as sick."

Wysong said she suggests folks go to a board-certified dermatologist if they see anything peculiar on the skin.

“We hope our research can lay the foundation for future studies to determine why there’s such a gap in survival rates, and to make headway to reduce these survival rate gaps,” she said.


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