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Open Access Research article

Health profiles of 996 melanoma survivors: the M. D. Anderson experience

Charles Stava1, Martha Beck1, L Todd Weiss2, Adriana Lopez2 and Rena Vassilopoulou-Sellin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, Unit 435, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA

2 Department of Biostatistics and Applied Mathematics, Unit 447, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030, USA

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-95

Published: 18 April 2006

Abstract

Background

The incidence and survival of melanoma are increasing, but little is known about its long-term health effects in adult survivors.

Methods

A health survey was available from 996 melanoma survivors (577 treated with surgery alone, and 391 with combined treatments). Their medical/physiologic and psychosocial responses were analyzed and compared with those of the survivors from other cancers.

Results

The melanoma survivors were 44.8 ± 12.8 years of age at diagnosis (significantly younger than the survivors of other cancers) and 63.7 ± 12.8 years at survey. Melanoma survivors were less likely to report that cancer had affected their health than survivors of other cancers (15.8% vs. 34.9%). The 577 individuals treated with surgery alone reported arthritis/osteoporosis, cataracts, and heart problems most frequently (less often than survivors of other cancers). The 391 individuals who had undergone combined treatments reported circulation problems and kidney problems generally as often as survivors of other cancers. Health problems were not associated with number of decades since diagnosis but with age at diagnosis, treatment modality, and family relationships.

Conclusion

We present information from a large cohort of long-term survivors of melanoma. As a group, they were less likely to report that cancer had affected their overall health than survivors of other cancers; a number of disease related and psychosocial factors appear to influence their health profiles.