Skin Cancer Rates Drop in New England

Skin cancers continue to be a concern in the United States and across the world, particularly as global warming and pollution rates continue to increase. If you happen to live in the Northeastern United States, though, you may have a lower chance for developing melanoma (or any other form of skin cancer, for that matter).

According to this study—published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), melanoma (the most common of all cancers in the US, resulting in more than 9,000 deaths, annually) “continues to increase faster than the rate associated with any other preventable cancer.”

But what is most interesting—and perhaps, important—about this study is that the geographic region of New England, in the North Atlantic United States, is the only one in the country which saw melanoma incidence and death rates fall in most states.

The authors of the “Comparisons of Regional and State Differences in Melanoma Rates in the United States,” credit this positive turn to the area’s “strong skin cancer prevention programs.” This includes the “Practice Safe Skin” Initiative by the Melanoma Foundation of New England. Through this initiative, the nonprofit has “installed sunscreen dispensers in public and recreational areas in Boston and beyond.”

Indeed, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the best ways to prevent skin cancers—like melanoma—include: “staying in the shade; limiting skin exposure by wearing longer clothing, hats and sunglasses; using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and avoiding indoor tanning.” Furthermore, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you should examine your skin from head to toe at least once a month and, perhaps, also have an annual skin exam.

The Skin Cancer Foundation also reminds: “If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal.”

Thus, if you have a mole that looks suspicious or appears asymmetrical—particularly if you may not have noticed it before—you should get it checked out by a dermatologist as soon as possible. Additionally, other signs of a cancerous lesion on the skin can include uneven borders, a lesion which constantly changes shape, or a lesion with a diameter larger than the eraser head of a pencil.