New study finds melanoma treatment delays for black Americans
- A recent study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology revealed that black Americans with melanoma wait longer for surgery than white patients.
- Black patients waited about 23 days in between diagnosis and surgery while white patients waited about 11 days.
- Targeted approaches (ie. increased awareness, education and training on racial inequities) are integral in closing the race-gap in melanoma treatment.
For 11 years, these researchers analyzed data gathered from 233,982 U.S. melanoma patients. What they discovered was that while white patients waited an average of 11 days in between diagnosis and surgery black patients waited about 23 days. So why is this the case?
While one of the disparities was health insurance status, this alone didn’t account for the treatment time inequality between blacks and whites. “A more thorough understanding of the factors associated with worse outcomes for black patients is critical in reducing racial disparities in melanoma outcomes,” study first author Raghav Tripathi, from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, said in a university news release.
According to Tripatha, melanoma is typically more aggressive in black people and requires more complex surgery. Additionally, due to the relative rarity of melanoma in black American’s, they’re typically less aware about the dangers of skin cancer.
Bob Marley’s battle with melanoma
Take popular Jamaican reggae musician, Bob Marley, for example. Marley was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma (a rare type of melanoma) which spread to other areas of his body, cutting his life tragically short. When a dark spot appeared under the musician’s toenail, he chalked it up to a soccer injury. Eventually, he was diagnosed with melanoma but was not treated. After a four-year battle with skin cancer, Marley died at age 36.
InView this post on Instagram
Perhaps’s Marley’s life could have been extended if the race-gap in cancer treatment were addressed and people of color had access to prompt treatment. “We hope this study will draw attention to the importance of further understanding the various components of [time from diagnosis to definitive surgery] and worse outcomes for black melanoma patients,” Tripathi said.
Ultimately, this study suggests that targeted approaches (ie. increased awareness, education and training on racial inequities) are crucial in closing the race-gap in melanoma treatment.