-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Recent declines in death
rates due to the skin cancer melanoma among white Americans appear
to be limited to those with higher levels of education, researchers
The findings reveal a widening education-related disparity in
melanoma death rates and highlight the need for early-detection
strategies to effectively target high-risk, low-educated whites,
the American Cancer Society researchers said.
The investigators noted that overall melanoma death rates among
white men and women aged 25 to 64 in the United States have been
declining since the early 1990s, but it hasn't been known if death
rates among whites might vary depending on a person's socioeconomic
status, a term used to describe their levels of income and
To examine the issue, the researchers reviewed death
certificates from 26 states and found that melanoma deaths declined
about 10 percent between 1993-1997 and 2003-2007 in both men and
However, reductions occurred only among whites with at least 13
years of education, and there were actually slight increases among
those with the least education. As a result, the education-related
gap in melanoma death rates rose by nearly 52 percent in men and by
almost 36 percent in women between 1993-1997 and 2003-2007, the
The study was published in the Jan. 16 online edition of the
Archives of Dermatology.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to document this education gap in melanoma mortality trends among non-Hispanic whites in the U.S.," study leader Vilma Cokkinides said in an American Cancer Society news release.
"The reasons for the widening of the educational gap in mortality rates are not yet understood, but we do know the cornerstone of melanoma control is recognizing the signs of melanoma early. Lower socioeconomic status is associated with suboptimal knowledge and awareness of melanoma, inadequate health insurance, and lower rates of skin self-examination or physician screening," she explained.
The researchers said there's a need for more vigilant primary
and secondary melanoma-prevention education campaigns that target
high-risk people with low socioeconomic status and the doctors who
care for them.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
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