Introduction Cutaneous malignant melanoma incidence rate has been increasing in Caucasian populations in the last decades. This trend is also observed in Switzerland where one of the highest incidence rates in the world is registered. This paper examines time trends in incidence, mortality and prevention practices in Switzerland over the last decades.
Methods Epidemiological data from 1983 to 2007 is based on the cantonal cancer registries and the Federal Statistical Office's (FSO) Cause of Death Statistics. Scientific publications are used to put Switzerland's data into an international context and to discuss risk factors and prevention measures. The Swiss Health Survey of the FSO, conducted in 1997, 2002 and 2007, assesses prevention in Switzerland by two questions: One about the use of sun protection and the second on skin examination frequency.
Results For the period 2003–2007, Switzerland's incidence rate of melanoma was of 22.3 and 20.8 per 100 000 inhabitants respectively among men and women. Incidence and mortality trends over the last 25 years are analysed by gender, age, birth cohort and region to identify particularly affected groups. Statistical information about primary prevention shows altogether little alteration in sun protection habits. Secondary prevention (screening) has increased from 2002 to 2007 and shows important variation by educational level.
Conclusion Differences in prevention practice by socio-demographic characteristics indicate that prevention activities have had a variable impact on different population groups. Prevention measures could be more focused. More detailed statistical data on prevention practices would allow a better evaluation of prevention in Switzerland.
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