Melanoma Cases on the Rise – Latest Incidence, Prevention and Detection

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Incidence

While the incidence of other cancer such as prostate cancer has leveled off, the incidence of melanoma in US is on the rise, according a presentation at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. 

In his presentation at Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Rigel pointed out that the average American’s risk of developing melanoma in his or her lifetime increased from one in 1,500 in 1930, to one in 250 in 1980 and one in 74 in 2000.  By 2004, the risk of getting this deadly skin cancer increased to one in 65 and by today, the risk is 58.

If this rate continues, he predicted the risk will be one in 50 by 2015!

He did not believe the risk in melanoma is due to increase in the number of skin cancer screenings.  If that was true, we should see a sudden rise in melanoma cases and then leveled off.

Prevention

Melanoma is caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds and lamps. To prevent yourself from getting melanoma, make sure you have put on sunscreen before going under the sun.  Also, avoid using the tanning beds, which is known to increase your risk of melanoma and serious eye problems.

Detection

Monitor your mole regularly.  Make sure you mole does not have any of the following characteristics.

  • Asymmetry: one half unlike the other half.
  • Border: irregular, scalloped or poorly defined.
  • Color: varies from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.
  • Diameter: the size of a pencil eraser or larger.
  • Evolving: changing in size, shape or color.

If you see a mole with any of the above characteristics, you should see a dermatologist immediately.  Also, mole that grows bleeds, crusts, or changes also required immediately doctor’s attention.

Presentation at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. 

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