- Public awareness programs in New England and the use of sunscreen dispensers reduces melanoma cases.
- Strong skin cancer prevention programs include the Practice Safe Skin initiative work where sunscreen dispensers were installed in public and recreational areas.
A strong prevention programme has benefits as in the case of the decline in melanoma cases and deaths in Northeast states.
The Melanoma Foundation of New England started a program in 2014, that funds sunscreen dispensers in public places and recreation spots in Boston and other New England cities. The effort expanded in 2016 to other states.
"Such programs may enhance public awareness about skin cancer and may suppress the continual rise in melanoma," the researchers said.
A separate study showed that U.S. melanoma rates climbed from about 22 per 100,000 people in 2009 to an estimated nearly 24 per 100,000 in 2016. Earlier research showed the number of cases has increased sharply since 1980.
The new study found melanoma dropped in five of nine Northeast states over a decade and death rates declined in six of the nine states.
Incidence and death rates climbed in most Midwestern states. Melanoma cases also rose in the South and West but death rates varied in those regions. Regional ethnic differences and other demographics play a role.
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.
The new study, led by Dr. Robert Dellavalle of the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is an analysis by region of government data on cases and deaths in 2003 and 2013.
Most skin cancers rarely spread but melanoma is different. It may show up looking like an unusual, irregularly shaped or colored mole. It can invade tissues beneath the skin's surface and spread throughout the body. Overexposure to sunlight and indoor tanning are among the risk factors.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal."