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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 May 17;92(10):811-8.

Cancer surveillance series: changing patterns of cutaneous malignant melanoma mortality rates among whites in the United States.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Mortality from melanoma among whites is still increasing in the United States. In this study, we describe the changing patterns of melanoma mortality rates among whites by demographic factors and geography and further assess the relationship between the geographic patterns and the UV radiation (UV-B) level.


Age-adjusted incidence and mortality rates were computed by use of the 1970 U.S. population standard. Annual percent changes of mortality were estimated by fitting regression lines to the logarithm of rates. The relationships between melanoma mortality rates and UV-B level over time were assessed by weighted regressions. All statistical tests were two-sided.


From 1950-1954 through 1990-1994, melanoma mortality rates increased by 191% and 84% among males and females, respectively. Mortality rates peaked in the 1930 through 1950 birth cohorts for females and in the 1935 through 1950 birth cohorts for males. In the 1950 through 1969 study period, melanoma mortality rates showed a strong North-South gradient, but the gradient weakened in recent periods. The absolute change in mortality for a 10% increase in UV-B among females decreased from 0.08 additional deaths per 100 000 person-years in 1950-1959 to 0.01 additional deaths in 1990-1995. In contrast, the absolute change in mortality among males showed little change over time; additional deaths increased from 0.11 to 0.12 per 100 000 person-years.


Melanoma mortality in the United States reflects the complex interplay of UV radiation levels in each geographic region, the sun-protection behaviors of each generation of males and females in childhood and adulthood, the geographic mobility of the population, and the risk awareness and early detection.

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