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November 2013

Acral Melanoma: A Unique Disease in Asia

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(11):1272-1273. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5941

Compared with the US melanoma incidence rate of 21.1 per 100 000 population from 2006 through 2010, a low incidence rate of melanoma (≤1/100 000) was reported in East Asian countries including Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The most common subtype in these countries was acral lentiginous melanoma, which comprised approximately 50% to 58% of cutaneous melanoma.1-6 In contrast, acral lentiginous melanoma represented 2% to 3% of all melanoma among Western populations. Cutaneous acral lentiginous melanoma usually presents in areas with little to no sun exposure (such as palms, soles, and nail apparatus). Another sun exposure–independent melanoma is mucosal melanoma, which comprised 22% of melanoma in China in 2011.3 Compared with Western countries, where superficial spreading melanoma comprised approximately 50% to 70%, only approximately 5% to 37% of cutaneous melanoma was superficial spreading melanoma in East Asia, where sun-seeking behavior is not as popular as in Western countries. In Asian countries, cutaneous melanoma tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and results in low 5-year survival rates (Table).