Melanoma among cancers still on the rise: report
After a cold and harsh winter, many of us are craving some time in the sun.
But there's a new and dire warning today about sun exposure. The Canadian Cancer Society predicts that 80,000 people in Canada will be diagnosed this year with skin cancer and thousands will end up with the deadliest form of that cancer: melanoma.
“I was first diagnosed in 1996. I had a spot on my head,” says Betty Andrews.
She has been diagnosed with melanoma on four separate occasions.
She was successfully treated in 2011 and says she never worried about skin cancer while spending years basking in the sun.
“I never thought of cancer. There was never a mention of sunscreen,” she says. “We played outside and that’s what we did.”
Today, the Canadian Cancer Society is warning the deadliest form of skin cancer is on the rise.
In a new report, the cancer society says 6,500 hundred Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2014 and more than 1,000 will die from it this year.
“What we're concerned about is the fact that rates are increasing the most among older Canadians, which might reflect the fact in the past older Canadians had different sun protection behaviours than younger generations,” says Dr. Prithwish De with the cancer society.
Another 76,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers.
The society says Canadians are spending more time in the sun and are not properly protecting themselves from harmful UV rays.
“I treat about 30 to 50 skin cancer patients a week,” says Dr. Asif Pirani, a plastic surgeon, adding he is seeing more serious cases of skin cancer every week, especially among people under 30 years old.
“I think we just don't think about it much in Canada,” he says. “What people don't realize it doesn't have to be sunny outside to get UV radiation and we're getting exposed to more and more UV radiation – younger people especially … they're using tanning beds a lot more and not applying sunscreen as often.”
Doctors are stressing lathering up on sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and also being aware of the signs and symptoms, like new freckles and moles.
Those are symptoms oncologist Dr. Matthew Follwell says shouldn't be ignored.
“Melanoma as itself can very difficult to treat because it’s not necessarily a skin lesion,” he says.
Andrews now volunteers at the Canadian Cancer Society and is advocating prevention.
“Protect yourself, wear sunscreen, just be aware…” she says.
Along with sunscreen, doctors also recommend limiting outdoor activities between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., or when the UV index is greater than three. They also suggest wearing protective clothing.