Melanoma update

October 20, 2008

Las Vegas - One American dies from malignant melanoma every hour, according to Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S., co-director of the 27th Annual Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference, and clinical professor of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Las Vegas

- One American dies from malignant melanoma every hour, according to Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S., co-director of the 27th Annual Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference, and clinical professor of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Melanoma is one of the most frequent dermatologic disorders that doctors regularly see in their practice. One in 61 Americans have a lifetime risk of invasive and in situ melanoma, Dr. Rigel tells Dermatology Times.

In 2008, statistics show that 62,580 people living in the United States have invasive malignant melanoma, and 54,710 Americans have in situ melanoma.

The rate of melanoma is increasing more quickly in men than in women. Over the past 30 years, the gap between men and women has grown to approximately 30 percent. Moreover, by age 81, men are more likely than women to develop malignant melanoma by a 2-1 ratio.

The increase in melanoma in men is most dramatic over age 50. By contrast, the melanoma rates tend to spike in women in a much younger age group, perhaps due to the popularity of indoor tanning beds among young women, Dr. Rigel says.

Other risks for skin cancer include dysplastic nevi; overexposure to the sun, especially sunburns prior to age 21; having fair skin, light eyes and/or red or blond hair; marked freckling, especially of the upper back; personal or family history of malignant melanoma; actinic keratosis; and for teens, having an outdoor summer job.

Prevention and early detection are still the best treatment and cure for malignant melanoma, and the future looks bright, Dr. Rigel says.

"This is one of the most dynamic areas of medicine, where many of the most exciting advances will be taking place over the next five to 10 years," he says. DT

Disclosures: Dr. Rigel has a relationship with Graceway, Pharmaderm, Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena, and La Roche-Posay.

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