Melanoma is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.

What can you do to prevent it?

How common is it exactly?

CBS news reports on melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer; it has actually doubled over the last three decades, according to a report given out on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says that melanoma rates have heightened from 11.2 cases per every 100,000 people, which is what it was three decades ago. They have compared this with numbers from 33 years ago in 1982, which is when it was 11.2 per every 100k. In 2011 we were at 22.7 cases per 100,000.

Dr. Lisa Richardson, the director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, commented on the study. She said, “The rate of people getting melanoma continues to increase every year compared to the rates of most other cancers, which are declining. 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.”

Experts estimate that the annual cost of treating new melanoma cases came to the $457 million in 2011. By the year 2030, it is expected to hit around three times its current cost which would be $1.6 billion.

American health officials say that over 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are caused by UV radiation from the sun.

The director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, gave some common-sense advice to decrease the risk of melanoma. He suggested that people protect themselves from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover their skin. He also suggests that people find some shade when they are outside, particularly in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are the strongest, and he said that people must apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Experts insist on the use of broad-spectrum sunscreens because they protect against two forms of ultraviolet radiation. The first is UVA rays, which contribute to skin aging and wrinkling, and second is UVB rays, which cause sunburns. CBS explains, “Both have been linked to skin cancer risk. Sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 to 50 are recommended; experts say formulas that brag about SPFs higher than 50 offer no appreciable extra protection.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 20 percent of new melanoma cases currently projected to happen between 2020 and 2030 could be avoided by getting large scale skin cancer prevention programs that involve public education, restricting teen access to indoor tanning, and encouraging communities to heighten sun protection in recreational type areas. While experts have been making these types of suggestions for years, there has still been an increase in melanoma cases.

Why is that?

It has been speculated that despite the vast number of warnings that have been issued, melanoma cases are rising because people still want to tan and sun bathe as much as possible to get a sun kissed glow. Many experts are now saying that every person is their own best advocate in controlling their health and it is up to them to take the necessary precautions.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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