Rates of Melanoma Continue to Increase

The rate of melanoma in the United States continues to rise. These results were recently presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that often begins in the form of a mole. Melanoma is considered an aggressive type of cancer, which has led physicians and researchers to promote active screening measures of individuals, particularly those with light skin, moles, and/or those who have spent a lot of time in the sun. If melanoma is detected early, prior to spread, the cure rates are high. However, once melanoma has spread to distant sites in the body, long-term survival rates remain low.

The rate of melanoma diagnoses has been increasing at a faster pace than any other type of cancer in the United States. In the past two decades, incidence of melanoma has increased at an exponential rate, with associated death rates also rising. According to this pattern, it is estimated that one out of every 63 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma within their lifetime. There is speculation as to why the incidence of melanoma is on the rise. Although there are areas of suspicion, such as increased use of tanning beds, precise reasons for this increase are not known.

Fortunately, the majority of melanomas can be prevented entirely through minimizing exposure to the sun or through skin examinations. As well, melanoma is highly curable if detected and removed prior to spreading from its site of origin. It is recommended that individuals undergo regular screening for skin cancer, particularly if they are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

All individuals are encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider regarding an initial skin examination as well as a recommended follow-up skin examination schedule.

Reference: Rigel D, et al. Proceedings from the 2008 American Academy of Dermatology. February 2008. Abstract SYM302.

Related News: May Is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (04/28/2008)

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