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Is There Really Melanoma Epidemic

2009-09-16 11:06
Researcher studies Melanoma

Melanoma, which can be a deadly form of skin cancer, could be on the rise, or at least, that is what is being reported. A new study is suggesting that the "melanoma epidemic" is not necessarily an epidemic but simply a change in the criteria for the malignancy, according to a report in the September British Journal of Dermatology.

Anti-skin cancer organizations and campaigns have made it known that the number of melanomas has doubled in the past two decades, and continue to rise. However, some have doubted whether there really melanoma epidemic.

"The main message is to be cautious about overstating messages about a melanoma epidemic to the public and media," study co-author Dr. Nick J. Levell from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, UK, told Reuters Health in an email. "Such behavior will tend to induce unnecessary anxiety and behavior that may cause distress and harm."

Many dermatologists argue that melanoma, the most deadly of the skin cancers, is in fact becoming an epidemic and of course they recommend regular skin cancer screening and believe it to be the best way to save lives. But some specialists say that what the increase of numbers represents is not really an epidemic but rather an epidemic of skin cancer screening and a new study supports this view.

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Dr. Levell and his colleagues had a feeling that some of the "epidemic" was due to the fact that many cases of a skin condition that is a benign type of mole and were now being diagnosed as malignant melanoma. So the researchers used Medicare data to track the rise in melanoma cases since 1986 and data compiled by the National Cancer Institute to track the death rate and the number of people with early and late-stage disease.

They discovered that since 1986, skin biopsies have increased by 250 percent, a number that was nearly the same as the rise in the incidence of early stage melanoma and there was no change in the melanoma death rate. The researches found that in addition the incidence of advanced disease also did not change.

Since the main cause of melanoma is t because of an overexposure to ultra-violet radiation there are ways to prevent this deadly cancer. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can help. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (ACJN) just published a study that found eating seafood may help protect your skin for UV dangers.

References
British Journal of Dermatology
ABC NEWS

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Comments

Interesting that even after this study concludes that UV light does not appear to have the link to increased risk of melanoma you still conclude your article by promoting the use of sunscreen as the best way to reduce skin cancer risk. I guess old habits die hard.
All it means is that people are just as likely to contract melanoma now as they were 20 years ago. This tells me that we still have a lot of work to do. I would think that the number should be decreasing due to all the information and protective measures we have these days. Sadly, that’s not the case. Until we get headed in the right direction I say go ahead media and spin the facts any which way you want. We need to increase awareness. Check out my blog on Skin Cancer Epidemic: Fact or Fiction? at... http://www.livinginshade.com/2009/09/skin-care-epidemic-fact-or-fiction/