Malignant melanoma represents a significant and growing public health burden in the US and worldwide. It is estimated that 68, 130 cases of invasive malignant melanoma and at least 48,000 cases of melanoma in-situ will be diagnosed in the US this year. Melanoma is also one of the few remaining cancers with increasing US incidence. In the 1930s, the lifetime risk of an American developing invasive malignant melanoma was 1 in 1,500. Currently, that risk is 1 in 59. Deaths from malignant melanoma are also increasing. The mortality rate from malignant melanoma has risen about 2% annually since 1960. This year, it is estimated that 8,700 Americans will die from this cancer. The identification of individuals at high risk for malignant melanoma is important for the development of focused and efficient prevention efforts. Acute sun exposure resulting in sunburn remains a significant risk factor for the development of melanoma, but numerous other potential risk factors have been cited. Included among these are atypical mole syndrome/dysplastic nevus syndrome, blistering sunburns, immunosuppression, prior therapy with psoralen with ultraviolet A light (UVA) light, UV exposure at tanning salons, elevated socioeconomic status, and history of melanoma in a first-degree relative. With a better understanding of the reasons for the increasing rate of this cancer, and with enhanced early detection approaches, we may be able to decrease the incidence and mortality of malignant melanoma.
Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Inc.