Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Melanoma Risk Not Just for Whites

Later Melanoma Diagnosis More Common in Blacks, Hispanics Than Whites
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 19, 2006 -- MelanomaMelanomaskin cancerskin cancer is most common among whites, but it's also a threat for people of other races.

A study in the Archives of Dermatology drives that point home. The study details 1,690 melanoma cases in Florida's Miami-Dade County from 1997-2002.

Whites made up the vast majority of those cases (almost 70%). Hispanics accounted for another 485 cases (nearly 29%). The other cases were black (almost 2%).

However, blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be diagnosed with melanoma that had spread beyond the skin. Nine percent of whites had melanoma that had spread beyond the skin, compared with 16% of Hispanics and 31% of blacks, the study shows.

Data came from Florida's cancercancer database, which includes all hospitals, doctors, and clinics in the state. The researchers included Shasa Hu, MD, of the dermatology and cutaneous (skin) surgery department at the University of Miami's medical school.

Awareness Gap?

Most scientific studies and public health efforts about melanoma have focused on whites, write Hu and colleagues. They recommend boosting melanoma awareness in nonwhite racial and ethnic groups to encourage early melanoma detection.

Like many other cancers and diseases, the odds of survival are best when melanoma is detected in its early stages. Hu's data only cover melanoma diagnosis, not survival.

Melanoma survival rose from 68% in the early 1970s to 92% in recent years for whites. "Such advances, however," write Hu and colleagues, "have not occurred in other segments of the population."

Access to medical care may have been an issue for some people, the researchers note.

What to Do

Skin color can vary widely within races. In general, lighter skin that burnsburns easily is at highest risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. But as Hu's study shows, melanoma isn't just for the palest people.

While everyone should check their skin for suspicious changes such as irregularly shaped molesmoles, it can be hard to spot such changes, especially in darker skin. Doctors can do skin exams as part of a routine checkup.

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays