Author Affiliation: Dermatoepidemiology Unit, VA Medical Center Providence, and Department of Dermatology, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, Providence.
Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa,
MD, Executive Deputy Editor.
Melanoma has been increasing in incidence and mortality in recent decades
and represents a substantial public health problem. Because melanoma trends
tend to follow a cohort pattern, deaths from melanoma occur at a younger age
than most other cancers, and melanoma is among the most common sites of cancer
in young adults.1 Early detection is feasible
because melanoma is usually visible on the skin surface when in a curable
stage. Invasive melanomas excised when less than 0.76 mm in Breslow thickness
are about 96% curable.2 However, if melanoma
is not removed before it reaches 3.6 mm in thickness, case fatality is greater
than 70%.2 Death due to melanoma is a tragedy
that should not be occurring so frequently.
Weinstock MA. Early Detection of Melanoma. JAMA. 2000;284(7):886–889. doi:10.1001/jama.284.7.886