• Question: How do melanoma %s vary between countries with different economic/environmental features (eg: LEDCs more poor people, disease rife..) does it link any of it? and how does this cancer % compare to other cancers worldwide?

    Asked by rish98 to Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 21 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Ken Dutton-Regester

      Ken Dutton-Regester answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      Good question- The significance of melanoma varies significantly between countries. Not surprisngly, melanoma predomonantly affects Caucasian populations as they have less pigment in their skin, hence less protection from UV sun damage, hence they accumulate more mutations, hence more melanoma.

      Rates of melanoma are highest in Australia, US and UK; it accounts for probably about 5% of all cancer burden (in these countries). Interestingly, if you break down the actual % of deaths caused by melanoma, those of lower socioeconomic status have higher rates of deaths. This has been presumed to because they have less education about sun protection, but also the money required for some treatments can be expensive (depending on which country you live and how good the health care system will determine if this is an issue).

      In countries where the ethnicities are of dark skin, melanoma is less significant although it can still occur. Interestingly (i seem to be using this word alot in this post), melanomas in non Caucasian- say asian- have different types of mutations that occur in their DNA! This is significant for treatment as some of the drugs used in a Causcasian population may not be as effective in other ethnicities (based on their mutation profile).

    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      Good question, and good answer Ken, very interesting. It’s often really hard to tease out all the factors (environment, socio-economic etc) that affect things like diseases.