Sun Watch! Rates of New Melanomas Have Doubled in the Last Three Decades
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Without community skin cancer prevention efforts, melanoma rates will continue to climb, according to a new Vital Signs report released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the report, melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011, but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs may prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030..

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. And more than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure.

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.

Melanoma rates have increased from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011. The report notes that without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030. Further, it states that melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths each year. However, effective community skin cancer prevention programs and interventions from healthcare providers could prevent an estimated 230,000 melanoma skin cancers and save $2.7 billion dollars in treatment costs.

“Without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years.”

“The rate of people getting melanoma continues to increase every year compared to the rates of most other cancers, which are declining,” said Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs.”

According to Richardson, successful programs feature community health efforts that combine education and prevention strategies to increase skin protection for children and adults.To help minimize risk, communities can increase shade on playgrounds, at public pools and other public spaces; promote sun protection in recreational areas; and encourage employers and childcare centers to educate about sun safety and skin protection. Providers can work with their patients, schools and colleges to provides resources and information for sun safety year-round. The CDC also recommends encouraging everyone  to protect their skin with protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen, and to seek shade when outdoors.

Providers can work with their patients to provide resources and information for sun safety year-round. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends healthcare providers counsel people ages 10–24 with fair skin about the dangers of UV rays and how to prevent skin cancer.

The CDC  offers sun safety interventions tips for providers, including fact sheets and an infographic with sun safety tips for patients.

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