Melanoma Mortality Rate in Sharp Decline
I needed some good news today. It has been a rough few weeks - my mind races to health issues, to finances, to my family. My emotions get tangled with my thoughts. Uncertainty never feels like a friend and then this happened. Something good happened.
Hope for melanoma patients: A decline in mortality rate
According to the American Journal of Public Health, the overall mortality rate from melanoma declined by 17.9% between 2013-2016!1 A recently published study (which looked at primarily Caucasian patients) concluded that this is the largest, most sustained decline in melanoma mortality ever seen and is unprecedented in cancer medicine. (As a side note, the study noted that the greatest declines were among men over 50). How did this happen? What changed?
New therapies bring hope
The article credited the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of ten new cancer therapies back in 2011. According to Dr. David Polsky (Professor at New York University) in a recent article, previous chemotherapy treatments were not especially effective. In fact, these therapies had been effective in treating other forms of cancer but sadly, were having little effect on metastatic melanoma.2
Hope for better outcomes
Dr. Polsky also noted in the article that prior to the introduction of these effective therapies many patients with metastatic melanoma were immediately treated with clinical trials and skipped more traditional chemotherapies altogether because they were so ineffective. This is significant because prior to 2011, melanoma mortality rates had risen through the 1990s and early 2000s, even though mortality rates for other cancers had declined. Melanoma patients were facing poorer outcomes.2
Research, research, research
What great news! I have raised a lot of money for cancer-related causes and have always understood the tangible effects of helping people with proper prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. But, I have had less of an understanding of the direct value of pouring finances into research into the scientific community. I mean I have understood at a general level, but never saw it directly affect skin cancer until this study hit me between the eyes.
Keep raising awareness and funding
This gives me hope that every bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon, bake sale, garage sale, and lobby effort for increased research spending is not just for raising awareness of and funding for current patients, but for future generations who will benefit by improved therapies. I see the value even more clearly in investing in scientific research as it helps scores of people for years to come. It’s part of the legacy that we can leave for our children and their children.
I have a smile today
I needed this message of hope today. I needed to read that all of our efforts are having a positive effect, that we are making a difference. I have been aware that those with metastatic melanoma faced extreme challenges. Now, I am encouraged that there are therapies proving to be more effective in saving and extending lives. We are all in this together.
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