Interstate differences in incidence and mortality from melanoma. A re-examination of the latitudinal gradient.
Jones ME., Shugg D., Dwyer T., Young B., Bonett A.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the patterns of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) mortality in Australia. DESIGN: A descriptive analysis of melanoma incidence and mortality in Australia supplemented by a case series analysis of melanoma survival. Melanoma mortality rates were based on tabulations supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the years 1969-1989. Melanoma incidence rates were based on State cancer registry records for the years 1977-1990. The case series survival analysis was based on detailed individual records from the population-based cancer registries in Tasmania and South Australia. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The level of and rise in melanoma mortality rates during 1969-1989 in Australia; the five-year survival rates for Tasmanian and South Australian cases; and male:female incidence ratios related to latitude. RESULTS: We found annual increases in melanoma mortality rates of 2.5% in men (P < 0.0001) and 1.1% in women (P < 0.0001) for all Australia. The five-year survival rates (with 95% confidence intervals [CI]) were: 67% (59%-75%) for Tasmanian men; 79% (76%-83%) for South Australian men; 80% (74%-86%) for Tasmanian women and 88% (86%-91%) for South Australian women. A change in the male:female incidence ratio with latitude was also found--women have significantly higher incidence rates at higher latitudes, but similar rates to men at lower latitudes. CONCLUSIONS: The age standardised mortality from CMM for the period 1969 to 1989 shows little variation by State for women, despite a considerable range in latitude. CMM mortality in men is increasing at a faster rate than that in women. Between 1982 and 1987 the male:female incidence ratio in high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere showed an excess of cases in women, a finding which we believe has not been reported before.