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TheStreet Open House

Epidemic Increases In Melanoma Rates Three Of Four Americans Surveyed Have Never Had Skin Cancer Examination

Stocks in this article: MELA

"Annual skin cancer screenings are critically important because they can catch skin cancer, including melanoma, in its earliest, most curable stage," said Darrell Rigel, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, New York University. "I advise my patients to monitor their moles on an ongoing basis and to come into the office for a professional full-body skin cancer screening at least once a year."

Annual ExamsThe survey findings show that the majority of American adults (86%) have had a physical exam by a physician but that Americans are less likely to have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist. Older adults are significantly more likely to have had a skin cancer screening, compared to their younger counterparts (40% of those ages 55+ vs. 16% of those ages 18-54), even though melanoma is one of the more common cancers in people younger than 30. 1

Survey findings also show that 26% of American women have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist, compared to 23% of men. Adults in the Northeast (28%) and South (25%) are significantly more likely to have had a skin cancer screening than those who live in the Midwest (19%).

Self-ExamsThe survey found that more than half (51%) of Americans do not regularly conduct monthly self-exams including breast, testicular and mole checks. Women are more likely to perform monthly mole self-checks than men (26% and 19%, respectively). Interestingly, a larger percentage of adults who have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist perform monthly mole self-checks (39%).

Cancer RiskEven with advancements in sun protection technology and education on the importance of sunscreen in protecting against the risks of skin cancer, the survey shows that over two in five (43%) of U.S. adults say skin cancer "is not something they worry about." Younger men are significantly more likely to say they do not believe they are at risk for skin cancer than their older counterparts (45% of men ages 18-44, 33% of men ages 55+). 37% of Americans also agree that melanoma is treatable, no matter "what stage it is caught."

"We continue to push the need for self-exams at home and screenings by board-certified dermatologists, as the combination of both exams gives a higher likelihood of identifying skin cancer at earlier stages," said Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "We know that some consumers may look at smartphone applications for guidance, but my recent study shows that these apps are not reliable tools, with three out of four applications incorrectly classifying 30% or more of melanomas as unconcerning. 2 There is simply no substitute for seeing a dermatologist for a full skin cancer screening."

"During our skin cancer screenings, we now have the advantage of using MelaFind® on unusual moles which helps us learn about the characteristics of a mole, said Dr. Rigel. "In turn, we're becoming better diagnosticians and are better able to identify melanoma in its most curable stages."

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