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Eur J Cancer Prev. 2001 Oct;10(5):407-15.

Skin melanoma in Saarland: incidence, survival and mortality 1970-1996.

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Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122 Essen, Germany.


Over the past few decades, the incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma has been rising in both sexes in almost all developed countries, notably those with fair-skinned populations. Detailed population-based time trend analyses of skin melanoma incidence and survival in Germany accounting for stage have not been published until now. We analysed skin melanoma data from the population-based Saarland Cancer Registry in Germany from 1970 to 1996. Incidence rates were age-standardized. We estimated 5-year disease-specific survival rates and evaluated the effects of sex, age, calendar period and staging on the prognosis in Cox's proportional hazards models. From 1970-1972 to 1994-1996, melanoma incidence increased 170% from 2.4 to 6.5 per 100 000 person-years among men and 150% from 2.4 to 6.0 per 100 000 person-years among women. Mortality rates peaked in 1988-1990. After 1988-1990, mortality rates declined among women and remained roughly constant among men. The increase in the incidence of localized melanoma and T1-T2 melanoma respectively is driving the overall incidence trend. The improvement of survival over time is most likely due to earlier detection of skin melanoma. In the 1990s, about 30% of all newly diagnosed skin melanoma had stage T3 or T4, implying that further improvement in survival by earlier detection is feasible.

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