More than 5,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2015 in Spain, a number that is expected to continue to increase exponentially in the coming years, specifically 10% annually for at least the next 20 years. The good news is, says Dr. Pilar Lopez Criado, medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, "that this increase in incidence does not translate into an increase in mortality due to the greater number of diagnoses." As explained by the specialist, awareness campaigns on skin cancer have not yet managed to reduce the incidence of this type of tumor because melanoma takes about 20 years to develop after continued exposure to the sun, but they have already been successful in getting people to go to the dermatologist before.
In a country with a broad culture of habitual and continuous exposure to the sun, Dr. Lopez Criado believes that we still need some more time to change deeply rooted habits in society, but she is optimistic about the progress that has already been made in early detection and treatment of these tumors. "Early detection means that we cure these lesions by removing them, without the need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy," emphasizes the specialist, who also highlights the greater pathological knowledge of these tumors we have today, especially in lesions such as the Spitz nevus or the atypical nevus, which is now known to degenerate into melanoma.
As Dr. Lopez Criado points out, "to the melanoma depth indicator, greater or less than one millimeter, we have now added the number of mitoses, which has allowed us to identify risk groups with much more accuracy". With all this knowledge, the most important thing now is that people go to the specialist's office for any mole that attracts their attention, regardless of whether it is new or has been there for some time and even if it does not meet the five points of the ABCDE (Asymmetry, irregular Border, different Colors, increase in Diameter and Evolving over time).
In the case of people with phototype 2 skin (redheaded, white-skinned, with freckles) or people who have an immunosuppressive pathology and / or have undergone oncological treatment, Dr. Lopez Criado recommends being even more vigilant and making a annual visit to the dermatologist, even if there is no suspicion of any alteration.
In addition, to commemorate this European Day of the Prevention of Skin Cancer, MD Anderson Foundation has launched the campaign "The best gift, your skin". In the framework of the campaign, aimed primarily at parents with children because, as Patricia Pradera, member of MD Anderson Foundation, points out, "80% of sun damage occurs before the age of 18", 300 sun prevention kits will be handed out. This kit contains awareness brochures explaining the ABCDE of skin lesions susceptible to melanoma and bottles of sun protection cream. This is the second time that MD Anderson Madrid has hosted the campaign, repeated this year due to its success last year.