An increasing number of Americans are being diagnosed with melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Higher rate of detection and unhealthy lifestyle are considered to be the main reasons of the growing cases.
An Increasingly Common Disease
By comparing the data obtained in 2009 with the data acquired this year, health scientists have found that an increasing number of Americans are suffering from melanoma. Melanoma affects only about one percent of all patients diagnosed with skin cancer; however, it is still one of the main causes of death in such patients.
There are two types of melanoma: in situ melanoma, which does not extend beyond one affected area, and invasive melanoma, which penetrates deep into the skin — making it potentially deadly. In fact, 10,100 Americans are predicted to die due to melanoma only in 2016. This will be a clear increase from the 8,650 deaths registered in 2009.
The numbers show an obvious increase in the number of people diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime. If in 2009, one in 58 Americans could expect to develop melanoma, now it's one in every 54 people are in the same situation.
These numbers only refer to the very dangerous cases of invasive melanoma. If all cases are to be considered, including in situ melanoma, then one in 28 Americans could expect to develop one.
Melanoma Causes and Solutions
Although the numbers are alarming, there are several ways to explain the situation. First of all, the number of diagnoses has increased as well as more people go see a specialist before the situation becomes very severe.
This fact allows them to access treatment earlier and increase their chances of survival. However, this factor is not enough to explain the entire increase and it does seem that there are more cases overall than in the past.
Some specialists, such as dermatologist Michele Green from New York, think both climate changes and lifestyle choices are part of the problem:
"This study reflects what I have personally seen in my practice -- there is a definite increase in melanoma in situ that I have detected in my office. It may also be due to tanning and tanning beds, and more exposure to UV light," noted Green.
Considering the worrying situation and the dangers posed by developing such a disease, people are advised to avoid risk factors as much as possible and also to see a specialist whenever they notice any change related to their skin. The earlier the detection, the bigger the chances of making a full recovery.