Is There Really Melanoma Epidemic
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.
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.