J Cutan Med Surg. 2020 Sep 21:1203475420960426. doi: 10.1177/1203475420960426. Online ahead of print.
As melanoma is one of the leading cancers in average years of life lost per death from disease, screening and early diagnosis are imperative to decrease morbidity and mortality. Socioeconomic status (SES) has been shown to be associated with melanoma incidence. However, it is unclear if this association holds true in universal healthcare systems where screening, diagnostic, and treatment services are available to all patients. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the evidence on the association of SES and melanoma incidence in Canada. A comprehensive search of PubMed and EMBASE yielded 7 studies reporting on melanoma incidence or outcomes with respect to SES in Canada. High SES was associated with increased melanoma incidence across all studies, which encompassed all Canadian provinces, and time periods spanning from 1979 to 2012. Studies also reported an increasing incidence of melanoma over time. There were substantial discrepancies in melanoma incidence across Canadian provinces, after controlling for SES and demographic characteristics. Populations of lower SES and living within certain healthcare regions had increased risks of advanced melanoma at diagnosis. This review highlights the potential for inequities in access to care even within a universal healthcare system. Future research is needed to characterize specific risk factors within different patient groups and within the universal health system context in order to implement targeted strategies to lower melanoma incidence, morbidity, and mortality.