The incidence continues to rise every year. When I graduated from my dermatology residency 15 years ago, the rate of melanoma in the U.S. population was about 1 in 200. I have watched every year as it has grown from a rare disease to a common one. As of this year we can expect 1 in 27 to get some sort of melanoma in their lifetime and 1 in 52 people to get invasive melanoma.
It is out there, keep up those self body checks and semiannual exams by us if you are at particular risk. Come in early if you are worried about a changing or new mole. Never go to tanning beds and especially keep your kids out of them. Melanoma is extremely curable in the early stages, but is also extremely deadly in the late stages. Luckily, of all the melanomas we find at our clinic, 90 to 95% are in the curable stage. Denial does not usually work in your favor, so if you’re concerned about a mole, let us take a look.
Julie Voss, MD