Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer, Preventative Tips
Above: if you see the sun take action to protect your skin. If you see the full moon it's time to check your skin.
A recent report by the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy and Euromelanoma shows that skin cancer is increasing around the globe. Not only that, the report projects that it will increase exponentially by 2040 and that it’s already reaching ‘epidemic proportions’.
1. One person dies of skin cancer every 4 minutes.
Over the last decade, the annual cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have increased by nearly 50% to over 287,000 worldwide. This translates to more than 60,000 melanoma-related deaths per year globally.
When combined with non-melanoma related deaths, the figures get even more sobering. With over one million non-melanoma cancers diagnosed every year, there were 65,000 non-melanoma-related deaths recorded in the last year. That equates to 1 person dying of skin cancer every 4 minutes.
Above: Melanoma skin cancer comes in many forms and is responsible for approximately 60,000 deaths globally each year.
2. Melanoma has increased by 10% in a decade.
For a cancer that can usually be beaten if caught early, the above statistic is shocking – but even more shocking are the projections for skin cancer over the next 20 years. The latest data from the WHO predicts that, by 2025, the number of deaths resulting from melanoma will increase by 20%, and then to 74% by 2040.
3. Deaths from melanoma are expected to increase by 20% by 2025.
Projections for skin cancer over the next 20 years are even more disturbing. The latest data from the WHO predicts that, by 2025, the number of deaths resulting from melanoma will increase by 20%, and then to 74% by 2040.
The truly shocking aspect of these statistics is that melanoma and other skin cancers can be beaten if caught early. That’s why we recommend having your skin professionally checked early and often – and to be vigilant in self-checking your skin every month.
Above: males and females tend to get skin cancer on different parts of their bodies.(reference)
4. Males vs females – who gets skin cancer and where?
One of the most interesting findings was that men and women tend to get melanoma in different parts of their body. For men, melanoma is more likely to occur on the head and neck and torso, while women have a higher incidence on their arms and legs.
5. Getting older: a ticking time bomb
We know that skin cancer incidence rates increase with age, which is largely due to accumulated sun exposure over your lifetime. And it equates to a ticking time bomb for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer incidence rates.
6. Where you live makes a difference
The study also showed that people who live in countries with a high Human Development Index (HDI) score are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, but people in countries with a lower HDI score are more likely to die from it1. However, under-reporting in countries with low socioeconomic status means the incidence of skin cancer diagnoses and deaths could in fact be much higher.
Above: every time you tan your skin you are increasing your skin cancer risk.
7. Tanned skin is dangerous skin
One of the key dangers highlighted by the report is that many people still believe that tanned skin is desirable – and many people still use sunbeds around the globe.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where being tanned is ‘cool’ – and it will take real social change to change that. The report recommends embracing the natural, untanned appearance of your skin, whatever its original colour.
8. Young people are still not being SunSmart
A worrying development in sun safety was identified in another research study, which found that young people aged 15 to 19 years took the biggest risks and used the least protection in the sun3. This is very concerning, given that this age group grew up with sun safe messaging. Even if they later revert to sun safe behaviour as they grow older, the damage may already have been done.
That’s because the risk of melanoma in later life doubles if a child or adolescent has experienced just one blistering sunburn1. What’s more, in countries where sunbed use is prevalent, increased melanoma incidence rates have been seen amongst younger people1. In other words, skin cancer should no longer be considered something of concern to just older generations.
Above: according to the report, many young people are still not taking skin cancer risks seriously.
9. Most of us aren’t checking our skin often enough.
What’s especially concerning is that the message about regular skin cancer checks just isn’t getting through in most countries. A skin cancer prevention study by Ipsos for La Roche-Posay showed that:
At MoleMap, we recommend having a professional skin check every one to two years (depending on your skin cancer risk level) – or even more often if you’re high risk. We also recommend checking your skin yourself monthly (here's how) – and if you do notice that a friend or family member has a suspicious mole, make sure they get it checked as soon as possible.
10. The new recommendations – check early, check often.
Both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers can be easily treated when diagnosed early, so the recommendations are simple: check your skin yourself every four weeks, as well as regular professional skin checks. In fact, it recommends using the sun and moon as a simple reminder for protecting and checking your skin:
Sources: 1. 2O2O Melanoma Skin Cancer Report, “Stemming the global epidemic”, by the Global Coalition for Melanoma Patient Advocacy and Euromelanoma: https://melanomapatients.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-campaign-report-GC-version-MPA_1.pdf 2. Skin cancer prevention study by La Roche-Posay and Ipsos, 2015.
Note: This quick questionnaire is designed to give you an idea of your personal skin cancer risk factors.
It isn’t intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis – please contact us if you have any questions about your skin cancer risk.
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