Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Melanoma Increase Is Real

Study Shows Rise in Melanoma Isn't Just Due to Better Screening

Melanoma Thickness continued...

Overall, the incidence of melanoma increased by 3.1% per year, the research team found. The increases occurred for tumors of all thicknesses, including those over 4 millimeters.

The biggest increase, Linos says, was found in men over age 65. Both the incidence of melanoma and the death rates are going up in that group.

"Melanoma rates are going up, especially in men over 65 years of age, where they exceed 125 new cases per 100,000 people," she says. "Melanoma rates are going up across all socioeconomic groups and regardless of tumor thickness."

Linos stops short of calling it an epidemic, saying that it is a "true rise" in incidence.

Melanoma Study: Second Opinion

While the new findings probably won't lay to rest the debate in the scientific community about whether the rise in melanoma cases is a true epidemic, the findings do show a true rise in melanoma, agrees Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a member of The Skin Cancer Foundation's Photobiology Committee.

"There is no debate about the rising incidence of melanoma," he says. "We should turn this around and focus on the more important questions." Those include finding better treatments for advanced melanoma, he tells WebMD. Finding tumors earlier is a good thing, he adds. "It can avoid [the need for] aggressive surgery, for instance."

"They showed the thicker tumors, which are much less likely to be incorrectly diagnosed as melanoma, increased as well," says Martin A. Weinstock, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology and community health at Brown University and chairman of the American Cancer Society Skin Cancer Advisory Committee. "That is probably the single most important observation they made, because it does suggest that indeed the increase in incidence is real as opposed to an artifact of early detection activity.''

The emphasis, agrees Cockburn, should shift from the current debate. What's important is finding out why the incidence isn't declining and emphasizing the need to get screened. "Screening is really important," he says "You should ask your doctor for a skin exam."

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays