Melanoma rates are finally falling
FOR the first time Queensland researchers have found that incidence rates for invasive melanomas have started to stabilise or fall in those aged under 60 years, a groundbreaking new study shows.
The Cancer Council Queensland study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, examined melanoma incidence and mortality rates from the past 20 years, with incidence rates now plateauing in those aged 40–59 and declining in those aged under 40.
The turnaround in melanoma rates is the result of more than 30 years of skin cancer prevention and early-detection campaigns.
Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with around 3700 people diagnosed with melanoma each year.
The findings are extremely promising and give good evidence that long-running melanoma prevention and early-detection campaigns have resulted in a fall in the burden of melanoma across successive generations.
Cancer Council’s signature Slip, Slop, Slap campaign, which launched in the early 1980s and expanded to include Seek and Slide more recently, started a shift in sun protective behaviours which is now showing results.
Melanomas that result from sun exposure can present many years after the damage is done.
Queenslanders aged 60 and over, who did not grow up with prevention campaigns, continue to experience higher rates of melanoma.
However, we are now seeing rates decline in younger generations who have been influenced by prevention campaigns from an early age.
Melanoma remains one of the most preventable cancers and if detected early, most cases can be treated successfully.
For the study, Cancer Council Queensland researchers – in collaboration with researchers at the University of Queensland, the QIMR-Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Princess Alexandra Hospital – examined incidence and mortality rates of invasive melanomas over a 20-year period from 1995 to 2014 (the latest data available).
Mortality rates have also started to decline by two per cent annually in males aged 40–59, and by three per cent annually in both males and females under 40.
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