A new study that looked at the state and regional differences in melanoma rates 2003 vs 2013 in the US has found that the Northeast, specifically New England, is the only US geographic region in which there has been a decline in Melanoma rates.
The report notes that the region is doing an excellent job of reducing melanoma rates by raising awareness about skin cancer among citizens. Strong skin cancer prevention programs likely played a role in this region’s success, the study adds. Citing the Melanoma Foundation of New England, a nonprofit organization founded in 1999, the study notes that the Foundation became more active over the period that was assessed. Recently, the foundation launched the Practice Safe Skin initiative, which funded sunscreen dispensers in public and recreational areas throughout Boston and expanded to include other New England cities. Such programs may enhance public awareness about skin cancer and may suppress the continual rise in melanoma.
Melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the US and according to official statistics from the CDC as many as 9,000 people lose their lives to this form of cancer. The mortality rate of melanoma continues to increase faster than the rate associated with any other preventable cancer.
“Promoting greater awareness of skin cancer through public health programs has been associated with increased documentation and incidence rates. Lower death rates may further indicate that better treatment may be prolonging the life of patients with melanoma”, authors noted in the study.
Eight (73%) of 11 midwestern states (for which we had information) experienced a rise in both death and incidence rates between 2003 and 2013, the study notes. Although a rise in incidence rates occurred almost homogeneously in 15 (94%) of 16 southern states, changes in death rates varied within the region. Seven (44%) states experienced an increase in death rates, while 7 (44%) others saw a decrease. Seven (64%) of 12 western states saw a reduction in death rates and a rise in incidence rates.