New Study Says Purported Melanoma Epidemic is Vastly Overstated

Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:08pm EDT

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British Journal of Dermatology study blames physician misdiagnosis as the
likely cause of apparent uptick in melanoma cases

WASHINGTON, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A newly released study in the
June 2009 British Journal of Dermatology that reviews data from a 13-year
period in the eastern United Kingdom has concluded that the much-hyped
melanoma "epidemic" is unlikely to be real. 

The study attributed the increase in melanoma diagnoses to heightened
sensitivity and caution on the side of doctors in classifying benign tumors as
melanoma. "Dermatologists, pathologists and other medical practitioners have
become more cautious in the last two decades, as the consequences of a wrong
diagnosis have become more pervasive," the authors wrote in their analysis of
the data.

"[T]he present findings make it extremely unlikely that the reported large
increase in the incidence of melanoma is real," the authors concluded.

The increase in reported cases was found almost entirely in Stage 1 melanoma,
an early stage of the cancer. Patients treated for Stage 1 have the highest
survival rate over time as compared to later stages. However, the study found
that the overall mortality rate from melanoma only increased slightly over the

The study's authors strongly cautioned against creating panic and excessive
anxiety about melanoma rates. "Until the necessary research is done, and the
true story is established...encouragement of public anxiety about a melanoma
epidemic and excessive avoidance of solar exposure for its prevention is

"For years the Dermatology and sun-scare community -- typically people who are
positioned to make a profit by scaring people away from Ultraviolet (UV) light
-- have been using increased melanoma rates as 'proof' that people ought to
stay out of the sun," said John Overstreet, Executive Director of the Indoor
Tanning Association. "However, as this new study illustrates, their
sun-abstinence message continues to be without basis. This new information, in
addition to all of the new evidence about the health benefits of Vitamin D
(the sunshine vitamin), should make people rethink their fear of UV light."

The study's authors also warned that the changes in diagnosis standards have
created unnecessary costs on society and individuals. "It may have resulted in
unnecessary excisions, health care and insurance costs, let alone the problems
and anxieties given to patients and their families," the authors wrote.

To schedule an interview, contact Sarah Longwell at 202.420.7865. To learn
more about melanoma scares, go to To read the abstract
of the British Journal of Dermatology study, visit
The Indoor Tanning Association represents thousands of indoor tanning
manufacturers, distributors, facility owners and members from other support
industries. The ITA promotes a responsible message about moderate tanning and
sunburn prevention.

SOURCE  Indoor Tanning Association

Sarah Longwell, +1-202-420-7865, for Indoor Tanning Association
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