The Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) will be marking World Melanoma Day by hosting a Facebook Live session today at 1 p.m. EST. During the interactive meeting, Dr. Julie Powell, president of the CDA, and Dr. Jennifer Beecker, national chair of the CDA’s Sun Awareness Working Group, will be answering questions from the public about sun safety and skin cancer prevention.
Melanoma is one of the fastest-rising cancers in Canada and the CDA stresses that it is important for Canadians to learn about the causes and the early warning signs of this form of skin cancer.
“Canada may not be thought of as a sunny country, but skin cancer affects one out of seven Canadians and remains the most common cancer diagnosed in Canada,” said Dr. Beecker. “Studies also show that one-in-three Canadians over age 18 had a sunburn in the past year, and severe sunburns increase melanoma risk; therefore, we must not be complacent.”
Despite the prevalence of melanoma in the country, there is still a widespread misconception that skin cancer is not that common. One the challenges for the CDA and other advocacy groups is making people realize that skin cancer is a major public health problem.
“A lot of people think it’s not going to happen to them,” said Dr. Beecker. “Also, many people have the perception that you have to sit out in the sun to get skin cancer. They don’t realize how much incidental sun exposure we get. Especially as Canadians, as soon as it’s nice outside everyone runs outside because they’ve been stuck inside all winter.”
Image courtesy of the Canadian Dermatology Association.
As the spring and summer seasons begin and people are exposing more skin, it is the perfect time of year to remind the public about how sun protection can decrease their risk of skin cancer.
“With the incidence of melanoma rising in Canada, sun-safe behaviours are very important for prevention – and because timely treatment saves lives, early detection is also critical,” said Dr. Powell. “While melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, it is highly treatable when discovered early.”
Incidence rates of melanoma have increased in both men and women over the past several decades, growing 2.1% per year in men from 1992 to 2013, and 2.0% per year among women.
Among all age groups in Canada, there were an estimated 1,240 deaths from melanoma in 2017; 790 men and 450 women.
Adolescents and young adults must also understand their risks; melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer among Canadians ages 15 to 29 years. Incidence of melanoma is also rising in this age group, with melanoma comprising 7% of new cancer cases and 4% of cancer deaths in 2017, among Canadians aged 15 to 29 years.