oa South African Family Practice - Precursors of melanoma : review article



The incidence of melanoma is increasing in many parts of the world. Between the early 1960's and the late 1980's, annual increments of 3% to 7% were observed worldwide in people of European origin. Melanoma is the most rapidly increasing malignant tumour in the white population, except for lung cancer in women. The melanoma epidemic is widely believed to stem from changes in lifestyle with increased recreational sun exposure and changed modes of dressing. The particular frequency of melanoma on the trunk in men and on the limbs in women supports this hypothesis. The sun exposure aetiology theory is, however, difficult to reconcile completely with the typical melanoma sufferer, a young or middle-aged office worker of fairly high socioeconomic status rather than a middle-aged or elderly outdoor worker. Short acute episodes of intense burning exposure to ultraviolet B appear more important than occupational sun exposure.


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