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Melanoma Epidemiology and Sun Exposure

Sara Raimondi, Mariano Suppa, Sara Gandini
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-3491

Preview of fully accepted paper, still not published in any volume

Abstract

The worldwide incidence of melanoma has increased rapidly over the last 50 years. Melanoma is the most common cancer found in the young adult population, and its incidence is very high among geriatric populations. The incidence of melanoma varies by sex, and this factor is also associated with differences in the anatomical site melanoma. Adolescent and young adult women have a higher incidence than men. This may be, in part, due to the greater use of sunbeds, as well as intentional sun exposure among girls and, in general, risky behaviours in seeking to suntan, due to socially-determined aesthetic needs. Indeed, the World Health Organization declared that there is sufficient evidence to classify exposure to ultraviolet radiation (sunbed use and sun exposure) as carcinogenic to humans. Although pigmentation characteristics, such as skin colour, hair and eye colour, freckles and number of common and atypical naevi, do influence susceptibility to melanoma, recommendations regarding prevention should be directed to the entire population and should include avoiding sunbed, covering sun-exposed skin, wearing a hat and sunglasses. Sunscreen use should not be used to prolong intentional sun exposure. Primary prevention should be focused mainly on young adult women, while secondary prevention should be focused mainly on elderly men. In fact, after the age of 40 years, incidence rates reverse, and the incidence of melanoma among men is greater than among women. This is probably due to the fact that men are less likely than women to examine their own skin or present to a dermatologist for skin examination.

Significance

Young women present particularly high risky behaviours in terms of melanoma risk, such as tanning, related to social determined aesthetic needs. Indeed, the highest prevalence of sunbed use is found among female adolescents. Prevention recommendations include avoiding sunbed use, covering sun-exposed skin, wearing a hat and sunglasses. Sunscreen should not be used to prolong intentional sun exposure. Primary prevention should focus on young women, and secondary prevention in older men. In fact, at older ages, the incidence of melanoma among men is greater than among women, probably because men are less likely than women to examine their own skin or present to a dermatologist for skin examination.

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