Canadians who live in the southern and coastal regions of the country are more likely to develop a deadly form of skin cancer, according to a new study led by McGill University, which also finds that rates of this type of cancer are increasing in Canada.
The population-based study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Medicine, analyzed data from 2011 to 2017 for patients with melanoma in all provinces and territories except the United States. The researchers also looked at mortality trends over seven years and compared them to previous data from 1992 to 2010.
The data showed that out of 39,610 patients diagnosed with this type of skin cancer, 5890 died. Women accounted for nearly 46% of cases and just over 37% of deaths. Notably, researchers have found that the death rate has also been declining since 2013.
The analysis also revealed that Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia had the highest rates of skin cancer in the country, even when controlling for other factors such as age. The rates in the prairie provinces and northern regions of the country were lower than the Canadian average.
“The most important thing is that melanoma affects different areas differently,” Dr. Ivan Litvinov, assistant professor in the McGill University Department of Medicine, told CTVNews.ca Monday by phone.
“The entire driveway from Windsor to Montreal – even southwest Ontario, the trip to Ottawa, and especially the areas around Muskoka Lakes have higher levels of melanoma. We see the same in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and some coastal communities in New Brunswick. And that’s really stark. Very much compared to northern Ontario, Newfoundland or other parts of Canada.
Coastal communities in southeastern British Columbia also show an uptick.
Where does skin cancer occur?
Skin cancer is more common than all other cancers combined, Litvinov said, noting that there are 80,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed annually in Canada, of which 8,000 are melanomas.
“It’s going to really go up and up and up. The rate of skin cancer is really going up…in other words, every hour and six minutes someone is diagnosed with skin cancer,” he said.
He and colleagues found that in the early 2000s, it was about 12 cases per 100,000 per year. Now the national average is 20.75 cases per 100,000.
Besides these numbers, the study also revealed that melanoma affects men and women differently, and most often appears on the torso and head in men. In women, the legs are the first place skin cancer develops, followed by the arms.
All subtypes of melanoma are common in men, but the researchers note that lenticular melanoma is more common in women and primarily affects the hands and feet. Litvinov speculated that this may be the result of nail salon practices and the use of an acrylic UV nail treatment.
Lower death rate in Canada
The study reports that skin cancer causes more deaths than any other skin cancer, accounting for 1.9% of all cancer deaths in men and 1.2% of all cancer deaths in women. Worldwide, there were about 290,000 new cases of melanoma in 2018, with Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany having the highest number of cases per capita.
Between 2008 and 2018, experts saw a 44% increase in this type of skin cancer worldwide, as well as a 32% increase in mortality.
In Canada, the study found that while there were more diagnoses, the death rate had actually decreased since 2013.
“It’s a great achievement,” Litvino said. Like other wealthy countries, he noted, effective treatments such as immunotherapies and other targeted therapies for skin cancer are increasingly available, with Canada being among the leaders.
“Total deaths may rise due to an increased incidence, but the per capita death rate is starting to decline because we now have treatments that provide up to 50% survival for patients with advanced melanoma. Previously, advanced melanoma was a death sentence. But we Now they are able to make it a chronic disease, just like diabetes or heart failure.”
The authors of the paper note that the lack of information from Quebec was an important limitation of this study. In addition, other potential limitations included some missing data and the risk of patient misclassification. The lack of some information also limits researchers’ ability to consider other factors such as socioeconomic and ethnic considerations that may also play a role.
“It is important to note that because Canada’s healthcare system is a single-tiered system, funded and operated by provincial governments, data is constantly collected, as each provincial and territorial cancer registry identifies tumors in its population by combining information from multiple sources.”, Study notes.
escalation of behavior
Previous research has indicated that ozone depletion caused by climate change may be a factor in increasing skin cancer diagnoses. Although this relationship has been well established for decades, many other factors “interact with the environment to determine the ultimate risk of this deadly disease,” the researchers said. Litvinov suggère que des voyages plus abordables vers des destinations soleil, une espérance de vie plus longue qui donne aux gens plus de temps sous le soleil et plus de temps pour développer un cancer, sont parmi d’autresbuant eurs contri à l cancer contri from the skin.
“In general, we know that the sun is addictive,” he said. “We know that when people are exposed to the sun there is a natural release of endorphins and sunflowers are really addicted to it.” Factors that play a role in our love for the sun.
“In today’s world, that really translates to more skin cancers, melanomas, photoaging, and skin wrinkles. We really want people to get out and enjoy the outdoors completely. Don’t tan.”
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