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VIDEO: U.S. melanoma incidence hits all-time high



U.S. annual melanoma incidence rates steadily climbed in recent years, bucking the trend of flat or dropping rates for most other U.S. cancers.

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“Nobody’s quite sure why the [melanoma] rates are still rising so dramatically,” Darrell S. Rigel, MD, said in a video interview during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. The increase remains even after adjustment of incidence rates for the increasing mean age of U.S. adults.

The American Cancer Society reported that the estimated annual incidence rate for invasive melanoma will be 91,270 cases for 2018, following what the society called a rapid rise in the rate for the past 30 years. Add to that the estimate of more than 87,000 U.S. cases of in situ melanoma for an overall annual U.S. rate of 178,560, Dr. Rigel said.

Melanoma has a latency of 5-20 years, “so what we’re seeing right now are the effects of what happened 5, 10, or 20 years ago,” said Dr. Rigel, a dermatologist at New York University.

During a talk at the meeting, Dr. Rigel said that based on current incident levels he projected a lifetime U.S. incidence rate of invasive melanoma of one case for every 40 adults by the end of this decade, and a lifetime incidence rate for either invasive or in situ melanoma of one case for every 20 adults by 2020.

A positive trend is that for the first time, the number of melanoma deaths has started to fall, with an estimated 9,320 deaths from melanoma in 2018 according to American Cancer Society statistics, down from a peak of 10,130 melanoma deaths in 2016, Dr. Rigel said.

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