Melanoma Increasing; Detection, Prevention Needed

HARTFORD, CT – Melanoma is on the increase, and more needs to be done to promote prevention and early-detection of the sometimes deadly disease, according to a new study.

The authors pointed out that melanoma is the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, with nearly 50,000 annual deaths worldwide.

Research groups, including the VA Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, sought to assess long-term trends in the incidence and mortality of melanoma in Connecticut, where complete and consistent registration records are available. Their results were published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Using data from the Connecticut Tumor Registry, researchers sought to determine trends in invasive melanoma (1950-2007), in situ melanoma (1973-2007), tumor thickness (1993-2007), mortality (1950-2007), and mortality to incidence (1950-2007) among the 19,973 Connecticut residents diagnosed with invasive melanoma from 1950 to 2007, as well as the 3,635 patients who died of the disease during that time period. Used as primary outcome measures were  trends in incidence and mortality by age, sex, and birth cohort.

The study found that, during the initial period (1950-1954), a diagnosis of invasive melanoma was rare, with 1.9 patient cases per 100,000 for men and 2.6 patient cases per 100,000 for women. Between 1950 and 2007, however, overall incidence rates rose more than 17-fold in men (1.9 to 33.5 per 100,000) and more than nine-fold in women (2.6 to 25.3 per 100,000).

During those six decades, mortality rates also more than tripled in men (1.6 to 4.9 per 100,000) and doubled in women (1.3 to 2.6 per 100,000). Mortality rates were generally stable or decreasing in men and women through age 54 years, however, the study reported.

“Unremitting increases in incidence and mortality of melanoma call for a nationally coordinated effort to encourage and promote innovative prevention and early-detection efforts,” the authors said.

1.    Geller AC, Clapp RW, Sober AJ, Gonsalves L, Mueller L, Christiansen CL, Shaikh W, Miller DR. Melanoma Epidemic: An Analysis of Six Decades of Data From the Connecticut Tumor Registry. J Clin Oncol. 2013 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print]PubMed PMID: 24043747.

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