Patients with melanoma on the scalp or neck died at nearly twice the rate of those with melanoma elsewhere on the body, the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found. The best prognosis was for patients that had melanoma on the arms, legs, face or ears.
The study analyzed 51,704 people diagnosed with melanoma in the United States from 1992 to 2003. The study concluded that survival rates varied depended on where on the body it first appeared.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and can easily metastasize while the lesions are small.
The study showed a five-year survival rate for people with scalp or neck melanomas at 83 percent, compared with 92 percent for those with melanomas elsewhere on the body. The 10-year survival rate for people with scalp or neck melanomas was 76 percent, compared to 89 percent for other melanomas.
The study showed that 43 percent of the people in the study had melanomas on their arms or legs, 34 percent on the trunk, 12 percent on the face or ears, 6 percent on the scalp or neck and 4 percent at an unspecified site.
It strongly implies that dermatologists conducting screening should pay special attention to the head and scalp due to the higher rates of mortality.
Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. Rates of melanoma have been increasing in recent years. Melanoma is often first detected when there is a change in the size, shape or appearance of a mole.
Melanoma can be linked to sun exposure, especially sunburns during childhood. People with fairer skin are at elevated risk, and some people have a family history of melanoma.
The ACS reports that an estimated 62,000 cases of melanoma will be reported this year and 8,400 will die of the disease.