Early detection increases survival against melanoma in Malaga, but there are more cases

Early detection increases survival against melanoma in Malaga, but there are more cases
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Dermatologists say that since Coco Chanelmore than three decades ago, put the tanned Fashion, skin cancer does not stop growing. Historically, the whiteness It was well seen because while the poor, who did outdoor work, were tanned, the rich had perfect skin. But Chanel, influencer of the time, changed the paradigms and the cult of tanning was born.

In the last three or four decades, the melanoma –the most aggressive skin cancer and which represents around 5% of the total– has tripled. For their part, the non-melanoma tumors –which add up to around 95%– have doubled.

The expert and director of the Dermatology Unit of the Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella, Magdalena de Troya Martínpoints out that Early detection and better drugs increase survival. But he warns that Also the incidence (new cases) increases and that mortality does not decrease. For this reason, he insists that although there are medical advances in diagnoses and treatments, the important thing is “to avoid the development of skin cancer through prevention.” To do this, he explains, the important thing is to take advantage of the beneficial effects of the sun, avoiding the harmful ones. “The difficult thing is balance,” he acknowledges.

The specialist highlights the positive message by indicating that while decades ago a diagnosis of melanoma was practically a death sentence, today new drugs “smother tumor cells”which prolongs survival.

The data of the Observatory of the Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC) confirm the increase in the incidence of melanoma in recent years. The province had 10 new annual cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012 and 12 in 2023. In absolute terms, 167 new diagnoses then and 208 last year. And there are other numbers to take into account. A study of dermatologists Virgen del Rocío Hospitalfrom Seville, places Malaga as the province of Spain with the second highest mortality rate from melanoma: 2.47 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants; indicator only surpassed by Murcia, with 2.61.

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De Troya explains that solar radiation is “super necessary” for synthesize vitamin D which helps to have strong bones, as well as healthy joints and muscles. Additionally, this vitamin has a protective effect on the circulatory and immune systems. The problem is that in the seasons in which the sun is closer to the Earth – spring and summer – and when its position is more overhead – in the central hours of the day – radiation is more carcinogenic.

De Troya warns that although the population remembers sun protection when the heat hits, in Malaga “the sun accompanies us from morning to night throughout the year.” Especially for athletes or workers who are outdoors. That is why he insists that we must intensify protection from mid-March to the end of October – in addition to the high temperatures – due to ultraviolet radiation, “which cannot be seen or felt,” but is the most toxic.

The dermatologist insists that we must avoid the most harmful radiation and get “the right dose” of sunshine. Because going over the dose exposes skin photoaging, skin cancer and weakening of the immune system. But clarify that the dose varies according to the skin type and characteristics of each individual.

People with phototypes 1 and 2 – very light-skinned, redheaded, albino or with freckles – “do not metabolize the sun well.” So 10 minutes may be “a lot of dose.” Graduation comes to phototype 6, which are black individuals. Even these people burn, although their color does not show the characteristic skin redness caused by sunburn. From Troy He comments that patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments or transplants who take immunosuppressants are also very vulnerable to solar radiation and therefore have to take extreme protection and avoid exposure.

This specialist and the Costa del Sol Hospital lead the project Solvable, a comprehensive initiative for healthy lifestyle habits related to sun exposure. It was launched in 2021 with the support of the Ministry of Health and the collaboration of institutions and companies.

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