Melanoma Monday – Know the Facts
Skin cancer is one of the most common form of all cancers. Though accounting for less than 5% of all skin cancers, melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer responsible for the majority of skin cancer attributed deaths.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 80,000 new melanomas diagnosed in 2013 with incidence rates on the rise for the last 30 years. This year, almost 9,000 people are expected to die of melanoma. It is well established that early detection and treatment of melanoma are essential for the best outcome.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal.
- From 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased by 800 percent among young women and 400 percent among young men.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 57 minutes).
- Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. Between 2000 and 2009, incidence climbed 1.9 percent annually.
- There are almost 950,000 men and women alive in the U.S. with a history of melanoma.
- Survival with melanoma increased from 49% (1950 – 1954) to 92% (1996 – 2003).
- The overall 5-year survival rate for patients, whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has spread to regional lymph nodes or other organs, is about 98% in the US. The survival rate falls to 62% when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 15% when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.
*Melanoma facts adapted from www.skincancer.org