Melanoma rate still on the rise

February 21, 2005

The incidence of melanoma is continuing to increase faster than that of any other cancer in the United States, said Darrell S. Rigel, M.D.

The incidence of melanoma is continuing to increase faster than that of any other cancer in the United States, said Darrell S. Rigel, M.D.

Providing an update on the epidemiology of melanoma, Dr. Rigel reported that recently released projections for 2005 estimate there were be will nearly 60,000 new cases of invasive melanoma diagnosed in the U.S. this year as well as more than 46,000 cases of in situ disease. Currently, the estimated lifetime risk of developing melanoma for persons in the U.S. is 1 in 62, and that risk is predicted to reach 1 in 50 by the year 2010. For invasive melanoma and in situ disease combined, the lifetime risk is currently 1 in 34.

Dermatologists need to remember that melanoma is not just a disease of Caucasians. The lifetime risk of this skin cancer is 1 in 1000 among African Americans, and various studies show its incidence is increasing not only in the U.S. but worldwide.On the positive side, the mortality rate of melanoma has been flattening. Still, nearly 8,000 Americans are expected to die from melanoma this year - almost one person each hour.

However, Dr. Rigel was optimistic that important advances are forthcoming.

"I believe this is one of the most dynamic areas in dermatology and I expect to see a lot of new and exciting developments over the next 5 to 10 years," he said.