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Data correction shows non-Hispanic AI/AN population has second-highest melanoma rate in U.S.

A new study that corrects the underreporting of cancer among American Indian/Alaska Native populations shows the non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native population, known as AI/AN, has the second highest incidence of melanoma.

People from AI/AN populations are often racially misclassified in cancer databases, reinforcing the myth that they have low rates of melanoma.

The paper in JAMA Dermatology partially corrects that oversight using Indian Health Service data.

Although this method only scratches the surface, it doubled the melanoma incidence previously published.

The new rate was about one-half to one-third that experienced by whites.

AI/AN populations face special economic challenges and access barriers that can dangerously delay melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk from 2016 to 2024.