In the last three decades alone, rates of melanoma have doubled. This is a disturbing trend, particularly considering the fact that melanoma is 97 deadliest form of skin cancer. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent. It is also easily treatable if caught early. Stage 1 melanoma has a 5-year survival rate of 97%, while stage 4 melanoma’s 5-year survival rate drops dramatically to only 10-20%.
How to Combat
The CDC has come out and called for comprehensive public awareness and community education programs. They believe that between now and 2030, hundreds of thousands of melanoma cases could be prevented and billions of dollars saved by simply educating people about UV exposure and encouraging more diligent monitoring and early detection of the disease.
Overall, they believe that education and a comprehensive prevention program could prevent over 20,000 cases of the deadly cancer every single year.
What Causes Melanoma?
The primary cause of melanoma is excessive exposure to UV rays. This can be the result of anything from excessive tanning bed usage to simply spending too much time outside without proper sunscreen protection. Overall, medical experts believe a full 90% of all cases of melanoma diagnosed are directly caused by overexposure to UV rays.
Indeed, melanoma isn’t even the most common form of skin cancer, it is eclipsed by non-melanoma cancers. However, it still kills more sufferers than the rest.
How to Protect Ourselves
Because melanoma is almost universally caused by UV exposure, limiting UV exposure is the obvious way to protect ourselves and our children from developing the deadly disease. There are many ways to accomplish this, not the least of which being simply avoiding sun exposure when UV rays are at their most intense.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. Because of this, it is recommended that everyone use SPF 15 or higher sunscreen when they can’t avoid sun exposure. Staying out of tanning beds is a good prevention technique, too.
The CDC is encouraging community education and comprehensive, government-sponsored campaign to protect children and others from developing the disease. In addition to teaching people what to avoid, the plan include providing them with ways to avoid excessive UV exposure. Ultimately, the CDC can only do so much to protect us from this deadly cancer. We must take responsibility for our heath and that of our children. Awareness and sunscreen now can prevent tragedy and heartbreak later on.