Malignant Melanoma in the American Black

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Malignant melanoma in the American Black is an uncommon disease. Scattered reports have appeared in the literature indicating a somewhat different behavior and distribution from melanoma in the White patient. The last published report prior to the organization of the Tumor Registry at Charity Hospital of Louisiana on melanoma in the Black was in 1948 by Muelling when 28 cases were reported. From 1948 through 1974, 96 additional patients have been recorded in the Charity Hospital Registry which represents the largest reported experience in the American literature. The average age at diagnosis is 57.8 years as opposed to 53 years for White patients observed over the same time period. The ratio by sex is essentially equal in Blacks. The disease usually presents on the palmar or plantar surfaces of the hands or feet in the Black. In the registry data 51% occurred on the lower limb, 11% on the upper limb, 6% on the trunk, 6% on the genitalia, 1% on the head or neck, 13% were of extradermal origin, and 10% had unknown primary sites. The 5-year cumulative survival for all Black patients in this series is 27%. In contrast to the poor overall survival, a 78% 5-year survival has been achieved in Stage I patients treated with perfusion, wide excision, and regional lymph node dissection.

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