Why so many Utah men have melanoma

SALT LAKE CITY — After years of jostling with Vermont and New Hampshire for the top spot, Utah has emerged victorious in a contest nobody wants to win.

The state has the highest rate of melanoma in the nation, which is why you’ll never find Dr. Glen Bowen outside without a hat.

Bowen, a melanoma specialist at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah health complex, is diligent about protecting himself from the sun since he spends his days inspecting and treating the jagged, raised growths that are the calling card of the most deadly form of skin cancer. Business, unfortunately, is great.

Utah has had the nation’s greatest incidence of melanoma from 2010 to 2014, the last year for which data is available. Its rates of melanoma have more than doubled in the past 17 years, from 20 to 42 cases for every 100,000 people, according to the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Cancer Registry.

And in Summit County, where the resort town of Park City gleams 7,000 feet above sea level, the rate climbs even higher: 76.8 cases for every 100,000 people between 2012 and 2014.

Those numbers are shocking, even to Utah physicians who deal with melanoma and other types of skin cancer every day.

“The data are pretty consistent. If Utah’s not the highest, it’s one of the highest. In the U.S., the average rate for all races is 21.4. Utah’s is 42.3. That’s an amazing number,” Bowen said.

The dark areas are freckles and other blemishes caused by sun exposure on the face of Kevin Johns, an instructor and researcher at BYU. The image was taken with a special camera that records damage not visible on the top layer of the skin. | Dr. Jakob Jensen

While melanoma occurs most often in …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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