Tumor ulceration is an important prognostic factor for cutaneous melanoma (CM). Previous studies demonstrated that the proportion of ulcerated to nonulcerated CM rose with increasing tumor depth. These frequency-based studies, however, were not adjusted for the population at risk.
To determine the absolute incidence of ulcerated CM by tumor depth, stratified by sex and age at diagnosis.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We compared ulcerated CM by tumor thicknesses (≤1.00, 1.01-2.00, 2.01-4.00, and ≥4.01 mm), stratified by sex among younger (10-39 years) and older (40-84 years) non-Hispanic whites in the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database from 2004 through 2008. Types of CM included superficial spreading, nodular, and unclassified in 5106 cases among 3206 men and 1900 women.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Incidence of ulcerated CM by tumor depth for younger and older men and women.
The incidence of tumor ulceration was stable across all tumor depths among younger men and older women. Among younger women, it declined for the thickest lesions (0.08 per 100 000 for tumor depth ≥4.01 mm), although the trend was not statistically significant. In contrast, among older men, there was a statistically significant increase in ulceration for CM with a depth of approximately 1.4 per 100 000 for tumor depth of 2.00 mm or thicker.
Conclusions and Relevance
Male sex is an age-specific effect modifier for ulcerated CM by tumor depth. Future studies and staging guidelines should consider the interaction among CM ulceration, thickness, sex, and age at diagnosis.