The Northeast U.S. bucked a national trend between 2003 and 2013 with a decline in melanoma cases and deaths.
But in Maine, both the incidence of the disease and the death rate from it, rose during that ten years.
The research published in “JAMA Dermatology” attributes much of the drop in the Northeast as a whole to programs that raise awareness of skin cancer and how to prevent it.
But Meghan Rothschild of the Melanoma Foundation of New England says there’s a flip side to that, in that many people aren’t aware of the disease and how to watch for it.
“I think it has a lot to do with an overall lack of awareness about how melanoma and skin cancers occur, and how they are easy to prevent,” she says. “Not everybody’s seeing a dermatologist once a year, not everyone’s talking to their primary care physician about having an annual skin exam. People don’t know there’s a prevalence of this disease, they don’t know what to look for, and they don’t know if it’s caught early enough it’s curable.”
The Melanoma Foundation of New England offers several programs in Maine to raise awareness of melanoma and how to prevent it.
Nationally, melanoma cases have steadily increased over the past two decades. The American Cancer Society estimates that when 2016 cases are tallied, more than 76,000 Americans will have been diagnosed during the year. U.S. melanoma deaths also have risen.