Melanoma: over 100 thousand years of life lost in Europe in 1 year

Melanoma: over 100 thousand years of life lost in Europe in 1 year

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“Don’t think about it” is the worst advice you can follow for preventing melanoma. A suspected mole, in fact, should never be ignored or neglected for too long. An international study, in which researchers from the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation of Naples took part for Italy, revealed that, between 2020 and 2021, i.e. in the period of restrictions for the Covid pandemic, the checks were skipped ‘, diagnostic and treatment delays have caused the loss of 111,464 years of life in 31 countries in Europe, with an overall cost of 7.1 billion euros. The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Openshows that in the same period 15 thousand years of life were lost in Italy alone.

The short film

To draw attention to the importance of prevention and early diagnosis, the Melanoma Foundation and the Pascale Cancer Institute of Naples have launched the new short film entitled “Su noi due”, starring two well-known faces from the soap “Un posto al Sole “, Lara Sansone and Miriam Candurro, and with co-stars two other TV favourites, Gigi & Ross. The short, which lasts just over ten minutes, is directed by the young Alessandro Montali and written by Chiara Macor. The artistic director is Romano Montesarchio. The extras are all real nurses and the short film itself was made in the clinics of the Tumor Institute of Naples and in the Ascalesi hospital, which has been merged with the oncology center for 4 years. The short was presented this morning at the Mediterraneo hotel in Naples, but it cannot yet arrive on television platforms or in cinemas as it is in competition for the various film festivals, first and foremost that of Venice.

The short film, produced by Bronx Film and with the non-conditional support of Bristol Myers Squibb, tells the story of two friends with a very different approach to the prevention of melanoma: Anna, played by Miriam Candurro, more scrupulous who discovers she has a melanoma in her early stages of the disease; and Teresa, played by Lara Sansone, less attentive to prevention than she discovers she has the same disease as her friend when the cancer had already started to spread. In the short film, when Anna expresses fears about a mole on her thigh, her friend smilingly advises her “not to think about it”.

Prevention

“Thinking about it is exactly what we all need to do”, he underlines Paolo Ascierto, president of the Melanoma Foundation and director of the Melanoma Oncology, Oncological Immunotherapy and Innovative Therapies Unit of the Pascale Institute – . In fact, even for melanoma, prevention is better than cure. Because although this tumor no longer scares us as in the past thanks to the availability of innovative drugs, primarily immunotherapy which is able to cure 50% of patients with metastatic disease, prevention and early diagnosis remain our best weapons” .

The later the diagnosis is reached, the more the disease progresses and the more complicated it becomes to treat it. Just as it happened – and is happening – to thousands of patients during the pandemic, due to restrictions, staff shortages and the fear of getting sick with Covid, they postponed screening.

“Our study, based on data from 50,072 European patients, estimates that in approximately 17% of people with melanoma the cancer would have progressed to a higher stage in 2020-2021 due to just 2 to 3 months of delays in diagnosis or in the treatment – specifies Ascierto -. We should be alarmed by the fact that, due to a single disease, so many years of life have been lost and that thousands of patients have suffered a worsening of the quality of life”.

The third most frequent cancer under the age of 50

The short film is therefore an invitation to “think” about the prevention of melanoma, the third most frequent cancer under the age of 50 in Italy (in 2023, approximately 12,700 new diagnoses were estimated, of which 7,000 among men and 5,700 among women ). “This is the ‘ideal’ time of year to act: the summer season, most at risk in terms of exposure to UV rays, one of the main risk factors for skin cancer, is still far away but not too much – explains Ascierto – March and April can be the ‘perfect’ months to undergo mole mapping, a non-invasive diagnostic test that allows the examination of the epidermis, and which allows the identification of anomalies and irregularities, possibly diagnosing benign or malignant tumors, like melanoma.”

As Anna and Teresa’s story shows, discovering a melanoma earlier is better. “An early diagnosis is able to significantly influence a patient’s prognosis – concludes Ascierto -. Life expectancy for patients with early-stage melanoma reaches 95% 10 years after diagnosis. So ‘we think’ to prevention and, above all, ‘let’s act’.”

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