To the Editor.—
For some time, clinical experience has suggested that the incidence of melanoma is increasing. Certain publications confirm this opinion.1 Since pemphigus, systemic lupus erythematosus, and certain other potentially fatal dermatoses have been at least partially disarmed by the corticosteroids, melanoma has reinforced its position as the killer of dermatology. According to Public Health Service statistics, the number of deaths in this country due to this neoplasm has risen from approximately 2,500 in 1956 to about 3,500 in 1974, an increase of 40%. The reasons for this elevation can be surmised only. The suggested factors include ecologic ones (increased exposure to sunlight, tear gas, etc), possibly iatrogenic reasons (fertility drugs, diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vaccination scars), and infections (increased frequency or mutation of oncologic viruses).
In an attempt to establish or to disprove the impression of increased frequency, the statistics of the California
Epstein E, Bragg K. Changes in Incidence of Melanoma. Arch Dermatol. 1976;112(8):1174-1175. doi:10.1001/archderm.1976.01630320072024