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October 1997

Death From Skin Cancer Among the ElderlyEpidemiological Patterns

Author Affiliations

From the Dermatoepidemiology Unit, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Department of Dermatology, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, Providence, RI.

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(10):1207-1209. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890460023003

Background:  Melanoma has been the focus of early detection efforts of skin cancer because it is the leading cause of death from skin disorders.

Objective:  To document the patterns of mortality from skin cancer throughout life.

Design:  Population-based mortality registration.

Setting:  United States, 1979 through 1991.

Patients:  Decedents from skin cancer.

Intervention:  None.

Main Outcome Measure:  Distribution of deaths from skin cancer by cause of death, age, gender, and race.

Results:  Skin cancer was responsible for 61 458 deaths during the 8 years studied, 72% of which were attributed to melanoma. Melanoma accounted for about 90% of deaths from skin cancer among whites younger than 50 years, but only a minority of deaths among blacks and among whites older than 85 years.

Conclusion:  Efforts at early detection among the elderly white population should focus on both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.Arch Dermatol. 1997;133:1207-1209