Over the past 12 months, Italians have neglected the prevention of melanoma, the most aggressive of skin cancers, postponing or canceling many checkups and tests. There are 7 out of 10 Italians who have changed their attitude towards health due to the health emergency, 52% who have decided to postpone some clinical visits and almost 80% have not considered it so important to schedule a visit for mapping. of moles. A worrying picture considering that melanoma is the cancer for which in recent years there has been the greatest increase in diagnoses, + 20% compared to 2019, and that prevention is the main tool to defeat it. This is the starting point for the Novartis campaign “Beyond the skin – Prevention at the center” with a program full of activities to provide information and useful tools to learn about and prevent melanoma. The data that emerge from the second edition of the “Italians and melanoma” Observatory, a survey conducted by Doxapharma and promoted by Novartis to investigate prevention habits, highlight how the share of compatriots who declare that they know this tumor well, as well as that of those who consider early diagnosis essential to increase the chances of recovery, have been reduced by 10 percentage points in just 12 months. More generally, among those who claim to be more sensitive to skin health, the habit of regularly undergoing check-ups is not widespread, with a strong gender difference and a high percentage of men who do not know or practice any form of prevention. Little attention, therefore, to the screening of moles: 43% of Italians declare that they have never done so, but even among those who were used to periodically checking themselves, the frequency has decreased. The slowdown in melanoma prevention activities caused by the pandemic has been very significant: only 7% have planned a control of the moles in the coming months. “Melanoma is the most aggressive skin cancer linked to the transformation of melanocytes, responsible for skin color and tan, on apparently healthy skin or the modification of a pre-existing mole. We know that one of the main risk factors is exposure to sunlight and sunburn, especially at a young age “, recalls Ignazio Stanganelli, director of the Clinical-Experimental Center of Oncodermatology – Skin Cancer Unit of the Tumor Institute of Romagna (Irst ) Irccs, associate professor at the University of Parma and president of the Italian Melanoma Intergroup (Imi). “It is important to increase knowledge of this tumor – he underlines – because, although research in recent years has given us new effective and targeted tools, prevention remains the most powerful weapon we have.” “The survey highlights the reduction the use of dermatological checks and also how the time elapsed between one visit and another has increased. Of concern is the low perception of the importance of preventing skin cancers, in particular melanoma. The pandemic has upset some of our habits: we must return to worry about our health at 360 ° and take care of our skin through periodic checks “, explains Francesco Cusano, UOC director of dermatology at Ao San Pio-Po Gaetano Rummo, of Benevento , and president of the Association of Italian hospital dermatologists venereologists and public health (Adoi). The campaign “Beyond the skin – Prevention at the center” aims to bring attention back to this aspect and allow citizens to learn more thanks to a rich program of activities with information and useful tools to learn about and prevent melanoma and the possibility of interacting with experts and patient associations, possibility to ask questions to dermatologists and oncologists through the Facebook page @OltreLaPelleMelanoma, a community active for over a year, and a dedicated page within the Allies for Health portal (https://www.alleatiperlasalute.it/oltre-la- skin). “It is no longer time to postpone, it is time to put prevention at the center of our clinical practice”, warns Ketty Peris, Professor of Dermatology, UOC Director of Dermatology, Director of the School of Specialization in Dermatology and Venereology at the Catholic University – Gemelli Irccs Rome University Polyclinic Foundation and president of the Italian Society of Dermatology Sidemast. “The people at risk of developing melanoma – remembers the expert – are those with light skin and green / blue eyes, many moles, and a familiarity with melanoma and they are also those who must undergo more regular clinical checks, even if the control moles should become a healthy habit for everyone. “It is important to contact your dermatologist or specialist centers in various Italian cities because prevention can really make a difference: if diagnosed in its early stages, in fact, melanoma can often have a favorable prognosis and requiring only surgical removal. Fundamental to complete a correct diagnosis is also the determination of gene mutations such as that of Braf which is present in about half of patients with melanoma and which can be crucial for the choice of a targeted therapy . “In the field of melanoma, target therapy has revolutionized disease management, but Novartis’ commitment to re-imma ginare medicine also and above all involves supporting prevention. This is why we are proud to launch this awareness campaign together with patient associations and scientific societies ”, concludes Luigi Boano, General Manager of Novartis Oncology Italy.