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Home Industry News Skin cancers on scalp or neck ‘most deadly’

Skin cancers on scalp or neck ‘most deadly’

22nd April 2008

Skin cancers on the scalp or neck are more deadly than other skin cancers, according to a new study.

US researchers found that people with melanoma on their scalp or neck are less likely to survive for five or ten years than those with melanoma at other sites.

They studied data from over 50,000 individuals first diagnosed with melanoma between 1992 and 2003.

Fourteen per cent of those with scalp or neck melanoma and 44 per cent of those with melanomas at unknown sites died compared with only six per cent of those with extremity (arm or leg) melanoma; eight per cent with torso melanomas and six per cent with face or ear melanomas.

After controlling for other factors, including age, tumour thickness and sex, patients with melanoma on their neck or scalp died at 1.84 times the rate of those with melanoma on their arms or legs.

Writing in the Archives of Dermatology, the researchers say it is “unclear” why survival is worse for people with scalp or neck melanomas.

They suggest that it could be due to the rich and complex blood supply and lymphatic drainage in these areas, which may make it easier for melanoma cells to penetrate and circulate.

Other reasons could include skin lesions being hidden by hair and therefore being diagnosed later and an increased chance of the cancer spreading to the brain.

“The recognition that scalp/neck location is associated with poorer melanoma survival has implications for screening and public health recommendations,” the researchers argue.

“We suggest that all full-skin examinations and future screening studies include a careful inspection of the scalp/neck.”

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