Cutaneous melanoma: descriptive epidemiological study

Melanoma cutâneo: estudo epidemiológico descritivo

CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: Cutaneous melanoma represents around 3% of all skin tumors. About 20% of such patients will have advanced disease and will die before reaching five years of survival. The aim of this paper was to describe the clinical and histopathological variables and their correlations. DESIGN AND SETTING: Retrospective, descriptive, epidemiological study at the Melanoma Unit, Dermatological Clinic, Irmandade da Santa Casa de Misericórdia, São Paulo. METHODS: Records from 364 cases between May 1993 and January 2006 were analyzed. The frequencies of all study variables and their 95% confidence intervals were determined. The chi-squared test was used to evaluate associations among the variables, adopting a significant level of 0.05. RESULTS: Females predominated, with 1.4 women for each man. The patients’ mean age was 58.9 years. Nonwhite patients represented 13.7% of the sample. The prevalent anatomical sites for cutaneous melanoma were the trunk and feet, for both men and women. Acral lentiginous melanoma represented 22.3% of the cohort. In situ primary lesions were observed in few cases and a high percentage of thick cutaneous melanoma was detected. Ulceration was found in 13.4% of the thin tumors (< 1.0 mm). Thicker and ulcerated lesions predominated in male patients (p = 0.011 and p < 0.001 respectively) and in elderly patients (p = 0.021 and p = 0.015). CONCLUSIONS: The cohort mostly presented thick and ulcerated tumors, denoting late diagnosis and bad prognosis. Also, the sample was characterized by considerable prevalence of female patients, nonwhite patients, limb lesions and acral lentiginous melanoma.

Melanoma; Epidemiology; Sex distribution; Limbs; Survival rate

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