Melanoma prevention: are we doing enough? A Canadian perspective
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and its incidence is increasing significantly among Canadians. In parallel with the rising incidence and morbidity, the financial burden caused by this disease will continue to increase dramatically for the government and for individuals alike. More concerted effort to raise awareness of melanoma in Canada is therefore needed.
Risk factors—such as family history, childhood sunburn exposure, and age—play a significant role in an individual’s likelihood to develop melanoma. Ultraviolet radiation exposure is the most modifiable variable in melanoma causation. It is therefore important for the general public, in particular the country’s youth, to understand the consequences of lifestyle choices—especially tanning bed use and “sun worshipping.” Many of these issues are not being addressed fully at either the national or the provincial level, with Canadian efforts trailing those of other nations facing similar challenges. Canada also has workforce issues, with an inadequate distribution and number of physicians who can detect and treat melanoma at an early curative stage. With proper education and public awareness, melanoma prevention can be an achievable goal in Canada.