The number of new cases of melanoma, an insidious skin cancer, is growing in Italy every year. In 2020, compared to 2015, the increase was 37% among men and 24% among women. And the regions of the Center-North are more affected by the phenomenon, where the incidence is double compared to the South. Prevention is the first weapon to defeat this neoplasm, with very simple rules such as the use of protective sun creams and avoid exposure. in the sun in the central hours of the day (12-15), especially in these early summer weeks. Practical advice for the prevention of the most aggressive skin cancer are among the themes of the webinar ‘Mela Talk Connected’, a national information project now in its second edition. On-line events – reports a note – are attended and confronted by specialists oncologists, dermatologists, psycho-oncologists, patients, caregivers and citizens. The project is carried out with the unconditional contribution of Bristol Myers Squibb and enjoys the patronage of the main patient associations: AIMa.Me. (Italian Association of Melanoma Patients), APaIM (Italian Melanoma Patients Association), Italian Melanoma Association onlus and Emme Rouge onlus. “Melanoma is one of the most increasing forms of cancer in recent years in many Western countries – remembers Paola Queirolo, director of the Melanoma, Sarcoma and Rare Tumors Division at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan -. In Italy, the epidemiological differences found are partly attributable to a greater tendency on the part of women to protect themselves from the sun’s rays with suitable products and devices, to check their skin and, in the event of a suspected lesion, to contact a dermatologist for a control “. Hence” an appeal to men living in our country, so that they do not underestimate the risks of excessive exposure to the sun. In fact, all of us – he stresses – should pay close attention and this rule is valid all year round, not just during the summer. There are also categories of people considered particularly at risk such as infants and children. 10% of patients then have at least one first degree family member affected by the same oncological pathology. Thanks to greater attention to primary prevention, we can reduce the boom in melanoma cases that we are experiencing in the Peninsula “. “There is a need for more information on cancer and its risk factors – continues Monica Forchetta, president of APaIM -. Above all we need to raise the level of awareness and raise awareness among the youngest who still too often use tanning lamps or do not use sunscreen at the sea or in the mountains. Communication is also essential for patients who are growing in number and who continually need to be updated on the disease. Many questions come to our Association about the new treatments available but also about aspects of everyday life such as diet, rehabilitation or physical activity. Initiatives such as ‘Mela Talk’ are therefore welcome, giving patients and caregivers the opportunity to dialogue directly with medical specialists ”. In Italy last year – the note recalls – 14,900 new cases of melanoma were recorded (8,100 among men and 6,700 among females). In total there are over 169,900 people living in our country after a diagnosis of melanoma (80,100 males 89,800 females). It is a relatively “young” neoplasm as the average age at diagnosis is 57 years. One in five cases is then diagnosed among people under the age of 40. “75% of male patients and 83% of females manage to recover from the disease after 8-10 years from the moment of diagnosis”, Queirolo continues, underlining however that “traditional cancer treatments such as chemo or radiotherapy do not they are very effective and are therefore used only in a few specific cases. “The revolution came after the introduction of molecularly targeted therapies and immuno-oncology. Thanks to these treatments, more than 50% of patients with metastatic cancer can have a long-term benefit.” “Scientific research continues and is leading to new and more effective therapeutic options, as evidenced by several studies recently presented at the American Congress of Medical Oncology (Asco). In particular, the combination of two immunotherapy molecules, nivolumab and ipilimumab, has shown a clear survival advantage in previously untreated advanced melanoma patients. 49% of patients treated with the combination are alive at 6.5 years and median overall survival was 72.1 months, the longest reported in advanced melanoma to date . A very important result considering that, before immunotherapy, the life expectancy of patients with metastatic melanoma was about 6 months and less than 10% were alive at five years. This increases the opportunities for patients, who have to understand how now it is really possible to defeat even the most serious forms of cancer but – he concludes – primary prevention must not stop even after po the diagnosis of skin cancer “.
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