Melanoma Findings Encouraging in Northeast

9 Northeast states buck trend of rising melanoma cases, deaths

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- Recent research is yielding mixed results concerning melanoma in America. The number of melanoma cases and related fatalities in the United States is up, but the Northeast is bucking that trend.
 
The American Cancer Society reports melanoma cases have steadily increased the past two decades and the numbers in 2016 are disturbing. More than 76,000 Americans developed melanoma in the past year with more than 10,000 fatalities. So why are Pennsylvania and eight other Northeast states part of a declining trend in melanoma. 
 
Melanoma, the least common but deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the decline in the Northeast -- not just the number of cases but also the number of deaths. "Anytime that I see the rate of melanoma went down or the mortality from melanoma went down it's always great news," said Geisinger Dermatologist Christine Cabell, MD. 
 
Dr. Cabell believes awareness and strong skin cancer prevention programs are playing a role in fewer cases of melanoma in the Northeast. "People might be getting seen earlier, getting screened earlier and having biopsies earlier."
 
The good news is also being attributed to the Melanoma Foundation of New England which funds sunscreen dispensers in public places and recreation locations in several key New England cities as well as other states. "While skin cancer numbers in the Northeast may be dropping, Dr. Cabell is troubled by a disturbing trend concerning young people and skin cancer."
 
Dr. Cabell blames many teen melanoma cases on exposure to the rays of the sun as well as tanning beds. She is hopeful  Pennsylvania's ban in recent years on artificial tanning for most teens will bring beneficial results. "We might not be seeing a decrease from that yet but hopefully in the future we'll be seeing a decrease from some of those measures as well."
 
While ultraviolet ray exposure is considered a major risk factor, it's not the only cause of melanoma. "So it might be a genetic predisposition, a familial predisposition, a mole that someone's born with that starts to change," said Dr. Cabell. She urges vigilance to catch melanoma in its earliest, most treatable stages. "Do your self skin checks at home that you'll be able to notice any changes and get them seen and treated at an early time."
 
Studies show people who are diagnosed with melanoma early have a 98-percent survival rate over a five year period. You can learn more about melanoma and other skin cancers by clicking here or here.

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