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Exploring the Association of County-Level Social Vulnerability and Racial/Ethnic Minority Status with Stage-Specific Incidence of Melanoma and Cancer-Specific Mortality for Melanoma Patients

Tiffaney Tran

Mentor Kelly C. Nelson, MD
Award Type Medical Student Award
Institution The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Donor Support In Honor of Patricia Woo

For patients with melanoma, timely diagnosis and prompt treatment are important for optimal outcomes, but some groups of patients may face barriers to accessing dermatology care, leading to treatment delay and disease progression. These potential differences in health outcomes between groups of patients are referred to as health disparities. Health disparities may manifest as a result of unequal opportunities or unequal access to resources that arise from variations in geographic locations, income levels, race/ethnicity, or other factors. To better understand the social and geographical factors underlying potential disparities in melanoma patients, I will extract Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) data for a group of de-identified patients with melanoma selected from a state cancer registry. The SVI is a tool recently developed by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and comprises 15 different social and geographical factors at the neighborhood level, including those related to socioeconomic status (SES), minority status, and other social determinants of health (SDOH). While the SVI has lately been applied in other cancer care contexts, it has yet been applied to the melanoma context. The results of this research project will enable us to better identify vulnerable communities that may benefit most from a place-based strategy to prevent excess deaths from melanoma.