If the risk of melanoma makes you avoid sun-exposure, here are some news for you.
Are you worried about melanoma? Scared of being in sunlight and take all kind of precautions to reduce your risk? Maybe you already are a victim and have had a lesion cut out? In any case, you are not the only one. In USA alone almost one million people have a history of melanoma. The melanoma epidemic seems to be real.
New report reveals astonishing melanoma statistics
If you are one of the victims that have been put under the knife and had a skin-lesion removed, you should know that there is a 3000% chance that you have had an unnecessary excision. That is at least what a team of international researchers in Italy has found out after a three year long research covering 10 years of data from 21 clinical centers and 2 dermatopathology units from 13 countries.
The latest (July 2012) issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology contains a report from the survey “Accuracy in melanoma detection: A 10-year multi-center survey”. The purpose of the survey was to investigate the relationship between necessary excision of malign melanoma and unnecessary removals of benign lesions. In non-specialized clinics the number of unnecessary removals was as much as 30 times higher than the necessary excisions. In specialized clinics, the ratio sank to less than 10 times.
90% of people diagnosed with melanoma might suffer unnecessary.
This means that in some dermatologists’ clinics, 90 out of 100 “melanoma-victims” were misled to have a piece of their skin sliced away. When extrapolating the average figures in the survey to one million American victims, as many as 900,000 may have suffered needlessly.
And as if the personal sufferings by almost a million of innocent victims are not enough, the report also states: “…unnecessary excision of benign lesions increases morbidity and healthcare costs.”
What makes people line up to dermatologists receptions?
So if there is no real “melanoma-epidemic” going on, what then makes millions of people queue outside the dermatologists’ doors, worried about a spot on their skin? And what makes the good feeling of being in the sun to get a dark lining of guilt if not having slathered on a bottle of sun-screen lotion first?
Dr. Guiseppe Argenziano, the lead author of the report, explains the increased amounts of visits like this … ”Today especially young people with many nevi go to the internet and discover to be at risk to develop melanoma. That’s why they come more frequently than in the past.”
The fact is that we are victims to a cleverly executed marketing campaign for sales of sun-protection cosmetics. Even if sunlight has not become more dangerous today than it was before sun-screen was invented, we are made to believe that it has and that we have to protect ourselves all the time. And the melanoma statistic is the foundation of this black marketing campaign.
The sponsors of melanoma statistics make billions in sales of remedies.
If we take a look at who are the sponsors of campaigns like “the melanoma awareness month”, we will find the main producers of sun-screen cosmetics (for example La Roche-Posay). And if we examine reports supporting the inflated skin-cancer statistics and risks from UV-exposure, we will find that they are bankrolled by companies making remedies for skin-disorders (like Galderma).
Dermatologists and their branch-organizations are playing along because they are either corrupt or misled to believe that they are actually doing something noble. More surprisingly, the “melanoma-epidemic” is also taken for real by cancer councils and health authorities. This is harder to explain since the side-effect from overprotection against melanoma has led to another, and in this case real, epidemic; the vitamin D deficiency that has been proved to increase the risk for all types of cancers.
What is an acceptable error margin in order to catch most real melanoma?
A certain number of unnecessary incisions is of course inevitable in a dermatologists quest for capturing and destroying all the real melanoma among his patients. According to Dr. Argenziano, this number should be something between 5 and 15. This mean that for every incision of a real melanoma, it is acceptable to cut away up to 15 benign skin-lesions.
This reality also has an impact on research about melanoma and the risk-factors for melanoma.
A typical case-control study collects the “cases” from the official cancer-statistics (which includes data from specialized as well as non-specialized clinics).
If no filtering is done to include only certain types of melanoma (for example only to include nodular melanoma) and no adjustment is made for the NNE (number-needed-to-excise) ratio in the final calculations, the result of the study will show at least (but most likely much more than) five times too many “cases” than the actual number of real, life-threatening, melanoma among the people in the “case”-group.
This can mean that many studies trying a prove a positive relationship between certain risk-factors (e.g. UV-exposure) and melanoma have serious and systematic flaws and should be re-evaluated with adjustments for the NNE-ratio.
Do you know if your case was real or not?
Giving the sensational findings in Dr. Argenziano’s and his team’s report, the question is how many of the excessive skin-cancer victims that were actually informed about having had been unnecessary put under the scalpel. Or maybe they just were happy to learn that their suspected melanoma were harmless and to have “fought the big C” and became a cancer-survivor.
In any case, with this new statistic made public, it is possible to foresee a flood of requests for facts about their cases from many of those innocent victims. And maybe a new lucrative market for lawyers specialized in medical mistreatment claims.
Always get a second opinion.
The report also highlights the importance of getting a second (or even a third) opinion from a specialized clinic before you decide to have a lesion removed.