New Research Warns Of A Dramatic Rise In Skin Cancer

woman rubbing on lotion( — The deadly skin cancer, melanoma, has risen over the last few decades. Early screening and detection was thought to be helpful but it does not matter, according to a new study.

For years, experts have debated whether the dramatic rise in melanoma — one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide — is a true increase or just a reflection of better and expanded screening, with doctors simply finding more cases and at earlier stages.

In the new study, researchers looked at people in lower socioeconomic classes who typically don’t have ideal access to health care and also took into account factors such as the severity or thickness of the melanoma tumors at diagnosis.

Increases in melanomas occurred for tumors of all thicknesses, and the incidence doubled in all socioeconomic groups over a 10-year period studied.

The conclusion? “The rise in the melanoma rates is at least partly due to a real increase,” says study researcher Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, a dermatology resident at Stanford University in California. The study was published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

About 62,000 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2008, according to the American Cancer Society, and about 8,000 people died of it in 2008. The tumors are usually brown or black and often appear on the face, neck, trunk, and legs.