Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers, but new research demonstrates that melanomas located on the scalp or neck are even twice as deadly as those found on other parts of the body. The finding is the result of a study published in a recent edition of the medical journal Archives of Dermatology.
Researchers conducting this latest study analyzed nearly 52,000 melanoma cases in the United States and found that patients with scalp or neck melanomas died 1.84 times more frequently than patients with melanoma elsewhere on the body — including on the face or ears.
The 5-year survival rate for patients with scalp and neck melanomas was 83%, but the rate was 92% for patients with melanomas at other sites. At 10 years, the survival rate among patients with scalp or neck melanomas was worse yet, at only 76%, compared with a survival rate of 89% for patients with melanomas in other locations.
Authors of the study say one implication of the research is that physicians should be paying closer attention to the scalp when examining patients for signs of skin cancer. They also caution that doctors should take extra time to look at the scalp during full-skin examinations. Although there has been debate about whether scalp and neck melanomas are more deadly because they are diagnosed later than others, this study finally demonstrates that the presence of melanoma on the scalp or neck, by itself, is an indicator that the patient will have a poorer prognosis — even if detected relatively early.
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