Article Collection Sheds Light on U.S. Melanoma Trends

Collaboration addresses costs, disparities, surveillance issues

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma, the third-most common form of skin cancer, may strike more than 45,000 people annually, according to a recent supplement published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Meg Watson, M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, together with partners in state health departments and the cancer research community, compiled a series of 15 articles detailing the incidence of and trends in melanoma in the United States.

Among the articles' findings: melanoma-related deaths account for 3.5 billion in lost productivity annually; people who lose their lives to melanoma tend to die 20 years prematurely, compared with 17 years for other cancers; 69 percent of adolescents experienced sunburn in 2003; and, despite the fact that physicians are legally obligated to report melanomas to central cancer registries, many dermatologists are not aware of these reporting requirements.

"Melanoma is a devastating disease that takes an economic toll on individuals, their families, and society in terms of premature death and lost productivity," Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a statement. "New policies and prevention strategies are needed to address the leading preventable causes of melanoma, enabling people to be healthier, live longer, and continue to be productive."

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