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We are pleased to bring you the 18th edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members, legislators and others in the community.
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month so that is our topic.

Skin cancer in general is the most common cancer in the United States.  The two most common types of skin cancer -- basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas -- are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. 


The majority of these three types of skin cancer are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.  Ultraviolet (UV) rays come from the sun or from indoor tanning (using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan). When UV rays reach the skin's inner layer, the skin makes more melanin. Melanin is the pigment that colors the skin. It moves toward the outer layers of the skin and becomes visible as a tan.  It is important to note that a tan does not indicate good health. A tan is a response to injury, because skin cells signal that they have been hurt by UV rays by producing more pigment.


People with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop skin cancer. Risk factors vary for different types of skin cancer, but some general risk factors are having:[i]


A lighter natural skin color

* Family history of skin cancer

* A personal history of skin cancer

* Exposure to the sun through work and play

* A history of sunburns, especially early in life

* A history of indoor tanning

* Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun

* Blue or green eyes

* Blond or red hair

* Certain types and a large number of moles





In 2010 (the most recent year numbers are available)[i]:


61,061 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 35,248 men and 25,813 women.  

* 9,154 people in the United States died from melanomas of the skin, including 6,002 men and 3,152 women.


Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 50 for whites; 1 in 1,000 for African Americans; and 1 in 200 for Hispanics. Melanoma rates increased by 3.1% annually between 1992 and 2004 -- and the incidence continues to rise. [ii].


Burden of Melanoma--Indiana, 2005-2009[iii]

Average number of cases per year (2005-2009)Rate per 100,000 people* (2005-2009)Number of Cases (2009)Rate per 100,000 people* (2009)


Indiana Incidence









Indiana Deaths






Source: Indiana State Cancer Registry






Melanoma is more likely than other skin tumors to spread to other parts of the body (e.g., lungs, pelvis, spine, bones, liver and brain).  The five-year relative survival rate for persons with melanoma is 91%. For localized melanoma, the five-year survival rate is 98%; five-year survival rates for regional and distant stage diseases are 62% and 16%, respectively.


During 2004-2008, of the 8,836 Indiana residents who received a diagnosis of in situ or invasive melanoma, 7,563 (85.6%) were diagnosed in the in situ or local stage, 814 (9.2%) were diagnosed in the regional or distant stage, and 461 (5.2%) had unknown staging.

What You Can Do


 As a health care provider:   

  • Educate parents about the risks of UV exposure for children -- children tend to spend more time outdoors and they burn more easily.
  • Educate parents and teens about the risks of UV exposure through tanning salons and beds.
  • The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that doctors:
    • Be aware that fair-skinned men and women aged 65 and older, and people with atypical moles or more than 50 moles, are at greater risk for melanoma.
    • Look for skin abnormalities when performing physical examinations for other reasons.


As a parent:

  • Don't allow children or teen to use tanning beds.
  • Ensure that you and your family use sunscreen, protective clothing and hats as needed to protect skin. 

As a funder or public official: 

  • Consider recommending sun-smart habits in schools (as in Australia).
  • Adequately regulate tanning salons.
  • Effectively fund research for new treatments for late-stage melanoma.


Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is a local non-profit serving people diagnosed with cancer and their families in Allen County by providing resources, information and compassionate assistance. Visit or call
 (260) 484-9560. 

Indiana Cancer Registry is a a source of statewide cancer statstics , such as incidence, mortality, and the prevalence of certain risk factors. Visit


Indiana Cancer Consortium is made up of diverse organizations representing healthcare providers, cancer programs, public health agencies, minority groups, advocacy groups, research institutions and wellness organizations united by a common mission to prevent and control cancer. Visit or email to 


The CDC's Skin Cancer page includes information, statistics and frequently asked questions. Visit


Local providers:


Dermatology & Laser Surgery Associates

10620 Corporate Drive Suite A, Fort Wayne, IN 46845

(260) 423-2567


Fort Wayne Dermatology Consultants 

7881 Carnegie Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46804
5750 Falls Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46804
(260) 436-8000


Three Rivers Dermatology

5650 Coventry Lane, Fort Wayne, IN 46804

(260) 436-9696


Other helpful links:

Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health