Rural Melanoma Patients Have Less Surgery and Higher Melanoma-Specific Mortality

Alexandra E. Hernandez, Kelley N. Benck, Carlos T. Huerta, Ifeanyichukwu Ogobuiro, Gabriel De La Cruz Ku, Mecker G. Möller

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1 Scopus citations


Background: Melanoma causes most skin cancer–related deaths, and disparities in mortality persist. Rural communities, compared to urban, face higher levels of poverty and more barriers to care, leading to higher stage at presentation and shorter survival in melanoma. To further evaluate these disparities, we sought to assess the association between rurality and melanoma cause-specific mortality and receipt of recommended surgery in a national cohort. Methods: Patients with primary non-ocular, cutaneous melanoma from the SEER database, 2000-2017, were included. Outcomes included melanoma-specific survival and receipt of recommended surgery. Rurality was based on Rural-Urban Continuum Codes. Variables included age, sex, race, ethnicity, income, and stage. Multivariate regression models assessed the effect of rurality on survival and receipt of recommended surgery. Results: 103,606 patients diagnosed with non-ocular cutaneous primary melanoma met criteria during this period. 93.3% (n = 96620) were in urban areas and 6.7% (n = 6986) were in rural areas. On multivariate regression controlling for age, sex, race, ethnicity, and stage patients living in a rural area were less likely to receive recommended surgery (aOR.52, 95% CI:.29-.90, P =.02) and had increased hazard of melanoma-specific mortality (aHR 1.19, 95% CI: 1.02-1.40, P =.03) even after additionally controlling for surgery receipt. Conclusion: Using a large national cohort, our study found that rural patients were less likely to receive recommended surgery and had shorter melanoma cause-specific survival. Our findings highlight the importance of access to cancer care in rural areas and how this ultimately effects survival for these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-517
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Melanoma
  • other
  • socioeconomic


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