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Dermatol Online J. 2009 Feb 15;15(2):3.

Malignant melanoma in African-Americans.

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Dermatology Clinical Trials Unit, University of California at San Diego, CA, USA.


Although relatively uncommon, malignant melanoma in African-Americans and other minority ethnic populations represents an aggressive disease highly associated with invasive lesions and a more advanced stage of disease at diagnosis, and consequently with a decreased survival compared with Caucasians. Data on biology of melanoma in African-Americans is very limited, which complicates the analysis of epidemiological information, as well as identification of accurate prognostic variables. This review article explores critical features of melanoma in African-Americans that distinguish it from disease seen in Caucasians, including the clinical presentation, histological patterns, prognostic indicators, and etiology. Emerging data from biologic and genetic studies will also be discussed, raising the possibility that melanoma in pigmented skin may represent molecular distinct cancers that are inherently more aggressive. Improved understanding of the unique manifestations of melanoma in African-Americans, and its underlying tumor biology, will help improve clinical detection, optimize preventative measures through public health education, and potentially lead to the development of novel targeted therapeutic approaches.

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