Nebraska sees sharp rise in melanoma cancer rates
OMAHA - There is a sharp increase in the number of melanoma cancer cases in Nebraska. Over the past five years that number grew 17.8 percent in women under the age of 50. The national average increase was 1.5 percent.Dr. Ashley Wysong is a dermatologist and cancer epidemiologist with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine in Omaha and says there are likely several reasons for the increase. She says some people are more genetically prone to melanoma, especially if they have more moles than normal. She says, “I also think that there is an increase to overall ultra-violet radiation exposure. That is something we are seeing throughout this younger generation. Overall, people are outdoors more and there are also increased rates of what we call intentional tanning. That can be both outdoors or using artificial sources of ultra-violet radiation like tanning beds.”Dr. Wysong says one study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2014 that showed a significant association between ever using a tanning bed and a 16 fold increase risk of melanoma skin cancer. That information was the result of 31 studies. The Academy also reports that women under 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors.The Nebraska Cancer Coalition is working to stop the rising trend of melanoma through “The Bed is Dead” campaign that is designed to educate teenage girls and their parents on the dangers of indoor tanning.Dr. Wysong says Nebraskans need to make wise choices when it comes to protecting themselves and that includes using sunscreen, wearing hats and protective clothing.