The most fearful skin cancer is usually talked about a lot near summer to remember the importance of protecting yourself from the sun’s rays, but checks must always be done regularly: if discovered in the early stages, the treatments are very effective
We expose ourselves less to the sun and cover ourselves with layers of clothing. After the summer, the skin is less “in sight”, but a few minutes of attention once a month can make a big difference to discover a melanoma early and have a high chance of permanent recovery. Regardless of the season, periodically inspect the skin, perhaps in pairs, or alone in front of a mirror, it should become a healthy periodic habit in search of any changes that should make you suspicious and book a visit to the dermatologist whenever you notice something strange. The prevention and treatment of this tumor have been the focus of an event organized in Sala Buzzati al Corriere della Sera last September 28th. “Melanoma is the most aggressive of skin cancers and can be fatal if recognized late,” he says Ignazio Stanganelli, director of the Skin Cancer Unit of the Tumors Institute of Romagna (IRST) and president of the Italian Melanoma Intergroup, who participated in the meeting -. If diagnosed at an early stage, however, it can be cured definitively with only surgical removal ».
Who is most at risk of getting sick
Statistics in hand, in fact, Five years after diagnosis, 98% of stage I and 90% of stage II patients are alive, when the neoplasm is present only in the skin layer, a few millimeters deep. If, on the other hand, the tumor has progressed to nearby lymph nodes or if it is already in a metastatic phase, things change considerably even if today, thanks to the arrival of many new drugs, things have improved considerably even for the most difficult patients. This is also demonstrated by several studies presented at the recently concluded annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology: a decade ago, in 2011, only one in four patients with advanced melanoma was still alive a few months after diagnosis. today more than half survive for several years with the use of molecularly targeted drugs and immunotherapy. “Those who have light complexions, hair and eyes are more at risk of developing melanoma, as well as those who expose themselves too much to the sun without protection, those who have had repeated sunburn during childhood, those who often undergo tanning lamps or sun beds ( which in fact have been cataloged as carcinogens) – remembers Stanganelli -. And then again: those who have already had a melanoma, people with many moles and family members of the sick. These “special guards“They should look at their skin with particular attention and make closer checks over time”.
Skin abnormalities: do not delay
The dermatologist is the first reference specialist to identify melanoma, monitor patients at risk and sensitize them on the importance of periodic checks. “Education of the population and early diagnosis are the most effective tools to recognize this tumor as soon as possible and treat it accordingly – he adds Giovanna Niero, president of the Italian Association of Melanoma Diseases (AIMaMe) -. The crucial prevention rule is one and it is simple: expose yourself correctly to the sun, using the necessary protections, from creams with high sunscreens to clothing. And then it is necessary to inform people, from the first years of school, to pay attention to their skin. If you notice something strange you have to go to the doctor without delay. Even now, in the Covid era, there is no fear of going to the hospital if necessary. Time is precious ». For the diagnosis, the dermatologist can now make use of “precise” and completely painless tools, such as epiluminescence microscopy (dermoscopy) and the confocal laser microscope that enlarge the mole and allow both to better observe its characteristics above (color, edges and others) and below the skin surface and to follow its evolution over time, avoiding unnecessary biopsies.
“Once the presence of a melanoma has been ascertained, it is very important to be followed in a referral center, with a multidisciplinary team composed of medical oncologists, dermatologists, pathologists, plastic surgeons, radiotherapists and geneticists who offer all the treatments available – Gaetana Rinaldi, oncologist at the Policlinico Paolo Giaccone in Palermo -. Scientific advances have brought us to the last ha identify genes that predispose to inherit melanoma: these are very rare cases for which, however, genetic counseling is provided free of charge in Italy according to precise protocols. On the front of therapies then – continues the expert – we know today other genes which, if mutated, are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of melanoma cells and against these mutations we have available effective targeted drugs. This is why it is important, especially in patients at high risk of relapse (stage III) or with metastases (stage IV), to carry out the appropriate genetic tests. It is only based on the test result and patient evaluation by a multidisciplinary team that it will be possible to choose the best therapeutic strategy for each individual patient “.
Bill presented to Parliament
Making melanoma better known, with its almost 15 thousand new cases in Italy in 2020, and strengthen the law on tanning lamps. Are the objectives behind the law proposal recently presented to Parliament by the Honorable Member Angela Ianaro, member of the Social Affairs Commission of the Chamber and president of the Science and Health parliamentary intergroup. The set of proposals was defined together with Paola Queirolo, director of the Melanoma, Sarcoma and Rare Tumors Division at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan and foresees four substantial points. Article 1 establishes the May 13 each year the National Day for the awareness and prevention of cutaneous melanoma; art. 2 invites the Ministry of Health to implement new information campaigns for the prevention of melanoma, even within schools; art. 3 requires the Regions to finance the coverage of dermatological screening campaigns targeted at the younger age groups (18-30 years); art. 4 defines, by means of a specific decree of the Ministry of Health, the sanctioning scheme for the violations on the improper use of tanning lamps, especially in minors.
October 17, 2021 (change October 18, 2021 | 09:41)