Melanoma, the skin cancer with the highest increase among young people

Melanoma, the skin cancer with the highest increase among young people
  • Every year more than 320 thousand new cases and more than 57 thousand deaths from melanoma are registered in the world.
  • It is considered the most aggressive version of skin cancer.
  • The use of tanning beds and constant exposure to sunlight are some of the main risk factors.

The variety of diseases that exist is infinite, but while some show a downward trend, the opposite occurs with others. Among those that are becoming more numerous is the melanomawhich has become one of the most common types of skin cancer among young people.

In this regard, one of the main problems is that the majority of the population completely neglects the care of their skin. It is quite serious considering that it is the largest organ in the human body. In addition, there is also no adequate culture of going to preventive consultations with the dermatologist.

To get an idea of ​​the problem, every year they register more than 320 thousand new cases and more than 57 thousand deaths from melanoma in the world. Therefore, it is considered the most aggressive form of skin cancer1 and occurs due to mutations in the melanin-producing cells that give color to this organ.

Young people are the “perfect” victims of melanoma

Although the probability of suffering from it increases with age, in recent years there has been an increase in young people due to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) accumulated during childhood and adolescence. This is due to frequent sunburns and the use of tanning beds in the first two decades of life, which is when 50 to 80% of skin photodamage occurs.

In Mexico, the population is continuously exposed to UVR from an early age. Hence, overall mortality from melanoma has risen 78% in the last 20 years. Likewise, around a thousand cases of skin cancer and 773 annual deaths from this condition are detected in the country.

While the most vulnerable people are those with a large number of moles, a weakened immune system or very fair complexion. Also those with freckles or light hair, as well as those with family or personal history of this or other types of cancer.

Dr. José Manuel Celaya Velázquez, Medical Director of Bristol Myers Squibb Mexico, indicates that the problem with the increase in cases lies in the lack of prevention and knowledge of both symptoms and risk factors.

“It is important that people protect their skin by wearing hats, sunglasses, sunscreen with a minimum protection factor of 30, long-sleeved cotton or linen clothing. In addition to having moderate exposure to the Sun, especially during the months of March to September and between 11 and 4 pm (even on cloudy days), which is when the star reaches its maximum height in the sky.

In addition to this, the fashion of wearing golden skin has a high cost, especially among young people who spend more time sunbathing or in tanning beds. In addition to being a risk factor for melanoma it also causes premature aging, eye damage and allergic reactions.

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Thus, after 20 or 30 years, spots and wrinkles begin to appear and, in the worst case, cancer. And when it is not detected and treated in time, it is life-threatening as it spreads to lymph nodes and internal organs such as the lung, liver, brain, bones or the gastrointestinal tract.

How to detect suspected cases of melanoma

Dr. Celaya mentions that the majority of deaths from melanoma could be avoided by following the recommendations described, seeing a dermatologist regularly and monitoring the appearance of new moles or moles with unusual characteristics using the “ABCDE” strategy: A (Asymmetric form) , B (Uneven edges), C (Color changes), D (Larger diameter) and E (Evolution over time such as itching or bleeding).

“The back is a common location for melanoma in men and the lower leg in women. However, moles can appear, in addition to the skin, in inconspicuous/accessible places. Therefore, in addition to the dermatologist and check-ups once a month, you should consider going to the dentist, ophthalmologist and gynecologist to look for them”.

There are different treatments for melanoma, he explained, and depending on the stage, location of the tumor and the patient’s general health, they can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The latter is a recent innovation that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.

Studies have shown that at least 20% of patients treated with these drugs, also called checkpoint inhibitors, lived for three years and some even for more than 10.