Malignant melanoma in Chile: an unusual distribution of primary sites in men from low socioeconomic strata

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Abstract

Background

Mortality from malignant melanoma (MM) has increased in Chile in the past decade. The location of MM lesions on the body has been correlated with prognosis and survival.

Aim

To review body site and gender relationships with histopathologically confirmed primary MM in Chile.

Methods

Records of 575 cases presenting to 5 state hospitals from 1992 to 2001 were analysed.

Results

There were 360 women and 215 men. Women showed a significantly higher number of MM on the legs, cheeks and arms, and in the genital area, whereas men showed a significantly higher number on the ears, backs of the hands, soles and feet. Men had a predilection for MM with a poor prognosis.

Conclusion

The different body site distribution of primary MM in men and women may be explained by a different pattern of sun exposure. Ethnic and genetic factors may also be involved. The predominant location of MM in women in Chile is similar to white populations, whereas the location in men is similar to that observed in black and Asian populations. These observations may be relevant to the high mortality of MM in Chilean men.

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