At the European Cancer Organization (ECCO) Congress meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands, it was announced that the death rates from melanoma could fall by 2050 if effective treatments are available to everyone. People born between 1900 and 1960 are at the highest risk to die from melanoma. During this time, people were not aware of the dangerous effects of ultraviolet exposure from sunlight.
A press release through eCancer News says, melanoma is a type of cancer that develops from cells known as melanocytes. It usually occurs on the skin but has been found in the mouth, intestines, or the eyes. In women, melanoma appears on the legs while in men it appears on the back. Melanoma can develop from a mole and is caused by ultraviolet light exposure in people with low levels of skin pigment. Signs of melanoma from a mole include increased size, irregular edges, color changes, itchiness, or skin breakdown.
Alice Koechlin, from the International Prevention Research in Lyon, France, said at the conference that people commonly treated babies and children with “commercial UV radiation-emitting devices and exposed, unclothed, to the midday sun.” Eventually, this practice faded as vaccines; antibiotics became available. People later learned that sun exposure and sunburn in childhood were had greater risk factors of getting skin cancer in later in their lives.
Koechlin and her fellow researchers are working with Professor Phillipe Autier to use models to learn if the melanoma cancer death rates were the effects of age, birth year, or to the new medical treatments and technologies introduced recently. Using models, the researchers estimated the melanoma deaths from 2014 to 2050 in the US, Australia, and Sweden. With these models, the produced two estimates. One estimate was based on the “assumption that there was no available effective treatment for melanoma,” while the second estimate assumed that treatment was available. The second estimate resulted in a decrease of 25 percent in melanoma death, “assuming that all patients had access to these treatments,” the press release stated.
The second estimate also stated that death from melanoma peaked in 2015 for Australian men and 1990 for Australian women. In the US, the estimate found that the maximum for melanoma death for men and women were in 2005 and 1995. From there on, the mortality rates would continue to fall. However, with aging populations, the death rates from melanoma would increase until 2030 to 2035.
With the proper screenings, the early detection of skin cancers, including melanoma and efficient treatments for the disease the risk declines rapidly. Koechlin concluded her talk to the Congress by saying that “we still have a long way to go before we have affordable therapies able to prolong survival from advanced melanoma by several years with a decent quality of life.”
By Cheryl Werber