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Melanoma - the "Unknown" Epidemic

Are you staying in the sun for long, and specifically the “dangerous” hours? Time to stop! Apart from burns, pesky brown spots and skin ageing which are the results of sun’s over exposure, the excessive exposure in the solar radiation, can cause even cancer of skin, whose most dangerous type is the known melanoma.  The melanoma, according to the scientists of the Greek Dermatological Company it presents big elation in the past few years in Greece.

According to the results of the last Pan-Hellenic Dermatological Congress, at least four hundred new cases are diagnosed each year in Greece. The frequency of the most aggressive skin cancer is estimated that has increased at 30% the last five-year period.  Sun exposure is the leading cause of melanoma. The paradox is that the Greeks insist in staying in the sun, despite that the melanoma cases increase year by year.  It is characteristic that half of the Greeks suffer from solar burns before the age of 18, fact that increases vertically the danger of diagnosis of melanoma in the future, since up to the 80% of the dermal problems that are caused by the sun, happened during our child and teen age.

It is already proven that (1) nine in the ten dermal cancers are due to the excessive exposure in the solar radiation, and (2) as long as more one is exposed in the sun, as much bigger the danger to be diagnosed with skin cancer in the future.   The difference between melanoma and the other skin cancers is that melanoma occurs after repeated solar burns and in a short time period, while the other skin cancers occur most commonly to those that are exposed in the sun for many years because of their type of work or because they like to have a nice sun tan. The melanoma is black, while the other skin cancers have a reddish   colour. Melanoma may start in moles that change shape and colour, while it is diagnosed more often in the women.

Although that in 1999, according to a study in Europe were diagnosed for melanoma 12 women and six men per 100.000 residents, a rapid and worrying increase of frequency of melanoma - of this very aggressive cancer of skin, that often kills its victims - is marked in the past few year in Greece and in the other countries of world, that makes the scientists to speak for “epidemic”. It is characteristic that in the USA, where epidemiologic files are kept, in 1935 the frequency of melanoma was one patient per 1500 residents, while in 2010 it is estimated that it will be one patient per 50 residents.

The protection is simple: never staying in the sun without taking sun protection measures, and always protect your body from the sun, when you cannot avoid the sun, do not neglect skin self-exam and consult your dermatologist if you notice any change in your skin or mole.