It is estimated that 5,700 over-65s are diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year, compared to 600 in the mid-1970s. The over-65s were the first generation to “benefit” from cheaper foreign holidays and suntan salons. Risks of developing this condition are thought to have increased seven-fold, taking all factors into consideration.
Approximately 13,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with malignant melanoma per year, and 2,100 lives are lost annually.
Mundasad, S. (2015). Skin cancer ‘linked to package holiday boom’. London: BBC Health News, April 6th 2015.
This relates to:
Pensioners seven times more likely to get deadly skin cancer than 40 years ago. London: Cancer Research UK, April 6th 2015.
A survey by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) suggests that over three-quarters of British respondents would be unable to recognise signs of skin cancer. 72% of those surveyed reported they had suffered sunburn in the past year.
The ABCDE checklist helps to differentiate between a normal mole and a melanoma:
Asymmetrical: melanomas have two different halves and are irregular in shape.
Border: unlike normal moles, melanomas have notched / ragged borders.
Colours: melanomas present a mix of two or more colours.
Diameter: unlike typical moles, melanomas are larger than 6mm (0.25in).
Enlargement / elevation: moles that change characteristics and size over time are more likely to be melanomas.
Most Britons unaware of skin cancer signs – survey. London: BBC Health News, May 4th 2015.
More than 11 moles on right arm indicates a higher risk of skin cancer or melanoma:
Arm mole count ‘predicts skin cancer risk’. London: BBC Health News, October 19th 2015.
Immunotherapy: a Paradigm Shift in Melanoma Treatment?
A pair of cancer drugs, taken together – namely ipilimumab and the newer immunotherapy drug nivolumab – promise to be able to shrink advanced melanoma tumours in nearly 60% of people. Immunotherapy involves using drugs to turn-off the ability of cancers to switch-off the immune system and hide from the body’s own killer cells; this may hold the key to treating many different forms of cancer.
Walsh, F. (2015). A new era in cancer treatment? London: BBC Health News, June 1st 2015.
Gallagher, J. (2015). Cancer drug combination ‘shrinks 60% of melanomas’. London: BBC Health News, June 1st 2015.
This relates to:
Larkin, J. Chiarion-Sileni, V. [and] Gonzalez, R. [et al] (2015). Combined Nivolumab and Ipilimumab or monotherapy in untreated melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine. May 31st 2015. [Epub ahead of print]. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).
Comments on significance and context from BBC News:
Gallagher, J. (2015). Have we cured cancer? London: BBC Health News, June 1st 2015.
Recent further breakthroughs on treatment?
Gallagher, J. (2016). Skin cancer: pair of drugs ‘eliminate 20% of tumours’. London: BBC Health News, April 19th 2016.
NICE approves combination therapy:
Gallagher, J. (2016). Pioneering cancer drug combination approved. London: BBC Health News, June 17th 2016.
Promising results at the European Cancer Congress on the treatment of head and neck cancer and advanced kidney cancer:
Immunotherapy cancer drug hailed as ‘game changer’. London: BBC Health News, October 9th 2016.
September 2019 Update
Gallagher, J. (2016). Skin cancer: Half of people surviving advanced melanoma. London: BBC Health News, September 28th 2019.