The higher socioeconomic status in young females linked to increased melanoma are six times greater than those in poor neighborhoods because of the high exposure to ultraviolet rays, according to Archives of Dermatology’s new research. Seventy-three percent of these women are more likely to develop melanoma because of their recreational activities that involve intense exposure to UV like playing sports, gardening, or walking, traveling to high altitude or low altitude destinations with greater UV radiation exposure or artificial tanning practices.
In fact, between 1980 and 2004, the US annual incidence among women has increased by fifty percent. However, researchers have cautioned everyone to take precautions regardless of age, skin color, or affluence to help prevent melanoma.
Cutaneous melanoma or commonly known as melanoma, is the most lethal form of skin caner, and the cause of the majority of deaths from skin cancer, killing one person every hour in America. In 2010, approximately 8,700 Americans died of Melanoma.
While melanoma only accounts to four percent of skin cancers, it causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the U.K., about 12,8000 people, mostly women are diagnosed with melanoma. It is considered the fifth most common cancer in individuals between the ages of 15 to 34, which is higher than it was three decades ago.
Melanoma, is a skin cells cancer called melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in the skin that are also present in the eyes, ears, oral and genital mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract. During the last five decades occurrences have risen worldwide with concomitant increases in mortality. However, the mortality rate has decreased in the U.S., Canada, and Australia; and it is predominantly curable if diagnosed and treated before it metastasized.
UVA and UVB rays can induce melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Cumulative sun exposure and blistering sunburns in childhood may increase the risk. People living in Australia, Hawaii, and Florida, where they have more sun, and those using tanning beds and booths increase their exposure and raise their risk of developing skin cancer.
While everyone is at risk, increased factors include a number of moles on the skin, sun exposure, skin types and genetics. People with fairer skin and eyes, those who have had squamous or basal cell carcinoma, compromised immune systems, those with lymphoma, or HIV/AIDS may increase their risk of melanoma.
One out of ten patients diagnosed with melanoma has a family history of the disease. Each person with first-degree relative has fifty percent chance of developing the disease compared to those without. Moles in children with melanoma-prone families can improve their chance of early detection by visiting a physician. The good news is, the survival rate for familial-melanoma is greater compared to non-familial melanomas if on the lookout for the disease.
The role of genetics in skin cancer and melanoma remains unclear, so you cannot reliably say whether it is the sun, family history, or the lifestyle that is a precursor of the risk in the progression of melanoma.
How to protect yourself from melanoma?
Since 65% of skin cancer is attributed to sun exposure. Don’t stay in the sun between 11 am and 4 pm where the sun’s UV rays are strongest. Beware of light clouds because you can get sunburn as 80% of the sun’s rays can still penetrate it.
Wear clothing to cover your arms and legs and use sunglasses with UV protection and wide-brimmed hats. Use sunscreen with the highest SPF containing both UVA AND UVB protections. Examine your freckles and moles every month and check for changes. And don’t forget about reflection because the water, sand, and snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV rays.
Protect yourself from intermittent and intense sun exposure that will lead to sunburn not only during summer, but all year round because it is associated with the development of many melanomas.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas