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Madrid, June 9, 2022-. According to data from the Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology (SEOR), more than 78,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Spain every year, with a 95% rate of non-melanoma skin cancers. For its part, it is estimated that melanoma will lead to almost 7,474 new diagnoses in Spain in 20221, with an estimated increase in incidence of 10% per year.

In recent years, immunotherapy has established itself as a form of prevention against recurrence once the patient has recovered from melanoma surgery. “There is increasing evidence that immunotherapy works, even in the earlier stages. In stages 2 and 3, where there are no metastases, the risk of relapse decreases. Therefore, we must make use of this type of treatment. We cure be preventing”, explains Dr. Pilar Lopez Criado, head of the Skin and Melanoma Multidisciplinary Unit and head of the Lung, Head and Neck Tumors and Melanoma Section at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.

Dr. Lopez Criado states that there will also be therapeutic improvements in the most advanced skin cancers thanks to new combinations of immunotherapy, as opposed to monotherapy which is administered in earlier stages. “In the medium term, these combinations are going to position themselves as an alternative to the options we have had. To say immunotherapy is to enter a world where there are a multitude of different drugs”.

Skin cancer screening programs

The incidence of melanoma (the skin cancer with the worst prognosis) has increased by 50% in the last decade, according to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV)2, with almost 7,500 new diagnoses estimated for this year. The causes lie in, among other factors, aging of the population, outdoor activities and even the use of tanning booths. Despite these data, Spain has no skin cancer screening programs.

“If screening campaigns were implemented, as in the case of other tumors like breast or colon, the increase in incidence could be reduced and malignant lesions removed before they occur. It is time to develop specific programs and establish clear testing programs that can be carried out in an orderly manner,” says Dr. Lopez Criado.

The doctor goes on to discuss the consequences of the increased incidence of different skin cancers, like melanoma, but also of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. "These are tumors that usually have a good prognosis, but we are seeing more and more tumors that we cannot cure”. And she ends with a recommendation to prevent this type of tumors: “With summer starting, it is advisable to avoid direct exposure to the sun, with or without protection, between 12 and 5 in the afternoon on the beach and in the mountains. You must remember that water reflects ultraviolet rays, as well as do the crystals of sand on the beach”.