Bottom Line: Marital status was associated with earlier detection of localized melanoma, with married patients more likely to present with early stage tumors than patients who were never married, divorced or widowed.
Why The Research Is Interesting: Early detection of melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, is critical and is associated with better patient outcomes. Marital status has been associated with improved outcomes in cancer but not much is known about the influence of marital status on the detection of early localized melanoma.
Who and When: 52,063 patients identified in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database with a diagnosis of melanoma with no evidence of regional or distant metastases and with recorded marital status and sentinel lymph node status who presented from 2010 through 2014
What (Study Measures): Marital status of married, never married, divorced or widowed (exposure); tumor stage at presentation and whether a sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed on lesions with a thickness greater than 1 mm (outcomes)
How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Because researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain the study findings.
Authors: Cimarron E. Sharon, B.S., of the Hospital of the University Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and coauthors
Results: Marital status was associated with earlier presentation of localized melanoma, with married patients more like to present with an early stage tumor and more likely to undergo sentinel lymph node biopsy for appropriate tumors. The sentinel lymph node is closest to a tumor and the first place it would spread.
Study Limitations: Whether unmarried people were in unmarried relationships was not known; the potential for data misclassification also exists
Related Material: The editorial, "Indoor Tanners as a Priority Population for Skin Cancer Screening," by Mary K. Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, also is available on the For The Media website.
For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.
Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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