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Epidemiology, prevention, screening and surveillance of skin cancer

Chapter 1 - Epidemiology, prevention, screening and surveillance of skin cancer

Epidemiology of malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma (MM) arises from melanocytes responsible for pigmentation, which are located in the skin, mucosa, central nervous system or uveal tract of the eye.

Worldwide, cutaneous MM (cuMM) comprises 1.7% cases of all newly diagnosed primary malignant cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer [NMSC]).

Incidence and mortality vary substantially between continents with low incidences in Asia and the highest incidences in Australia.

In Europe the overall incidence of cuMM is rising rapidly with highest rates in northern and north-western countries such as the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, and lowest rates in Portugal and Spain.

Currently, cuMM is the sixth most common tumour in men and women in Europe across all malignancies (NMSC included in ‘other cancers’).

Although cuMM represents only 4% of all skin cancers (including NMSC), it is responsible for 80% of all skin cancer deaths.

During the last 20 years, multiple approaches have resulted in a better understanding of tumour immunology and the genomic characteristics of melanoma.

Survival for melanoma patients with metastases is significantly prolonged by new therapeutic options compared with chemotherapy.

Melanoma-specific survival of MM depends on the stage at initial diagnosis, comprising primary tumour characteristics, and local and distant metastasis status.

Revision Questions

  1. Where are melanocytes located?
  2. Which countries have the highest incidences of melanoma?
  3. What led to an increased survival of advanced melanoma patients?
Editors and Contributors Prevention of malignant melanoma

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