Epidemic Increases In Melanoma Rates Three Of Four Americans Surveyed Have Never Had Skin Cancer Examination

Survey Commissioned by MELA Sciences, Inc. Illustrates Need to Expand Skin Cancer Detection Habits in U.S.

Feb 21, 2013, 07:30 ET from MELA Sciences, Inc.

IRVINGTON, N.Y., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- MELA Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: MELA). Despite alarming increases in skin cancer rates in the U.S., only 24% of American adults have had a skin check by a dermatologist. This statistic is one of several important findings from a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive® that reveals insights into behaviors regarding skin cancer detection and illustrates the urgency around improved preventative care. The study was conducted on behalf of MELA Sciences, Inc. from January 29-31, 2013, among 2,109 Americans ages 18 and older.

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Additional key findings:

  • Only 23% of Americans perform monthly mole self-checks
  • 37% of Americans believe they are not at risk for skin cancer -- in spite of industry statistics that report 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer annually
  • While 85% of U.S. adults correctly believe that moles are often pre-cursors to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, 20% believe that moles "are simply beauty marks"

"While many forms of cancer are on the decline, melanoma continues to rise and in fact, is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30 and second only to breast cancer in women ages 30 to 34," said Dr. Joseph Gulfo, President and CEO of MELA Sciences, Inc. "We have a tremendous opportunity to spread awareness and change the course of the disease by advocating for the detection of melanoma at its most curable stage, and with this survey, we'll draw attention to the importance of annual skin checks in the fight against melanoma."

MELA Sciences, Inc. is the pioneer company that developed MelaFind®, the first and only FDA-approved diagnostic tool to detect melanoma at its most curable stage. The patient survival rate is nearly 100% if melanoma is found when limited to the outer-most layer of the skin; once the cancer is advanced, the five year survival rate is generally 15-20%. MelaFind® sees 2.5 mm under the skin and uses multi-spectral light technology to provide dermatologists with additional information when deciding which ambiguous moles to biopsy during skin examinations. In the MelaFind® Pivotal Trial, which was the largest positive prospective clinical study ever conducted in melanoma detection, MelaFind® detected 98.3% of the melanomas.

"Annual skin cancer screenings are critically important because they can catch skin cancer, including melanoma, in its earliest, most curable stage," said Darrell Rigel, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, New York University. "I advise my patients to monitor their moles on an ongoing basis and to come into the office for a professional full-body skin cancer screening at least once a year."

Annual Exams The survey findings show that the majority of American adults (86%) have had a physical exam by a physician but that Americans are less likely to have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist. Older adults are significantly more likely to have had a skin cancer screening, compared to their younger counterparts (40% of those ages 55+ vs. 16% of those ages 18-54), even though melanoma is one of the more common cancers in people younger than 30.1

Survey findings also show that 26% of American women have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist, compared to 23% of men. Adults in the Northeast (28%) and South (25%) are significantly more likely to have had a skin cancer screening than those who live in the Midwest (19%).

Self-Exams The survey found that more than half (51%) of Americans do not regularly conduct monthly self-exams including breast, testicular and mole checks. Women are more likely to perform monthly mole self-checks than men (26% and 19%, respectively). Interestingly, a larger percentage of adults who have had a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist perform monthly mole self-checks (39%).

Cancer Risk Even with advancements in sun protection technology and education on the importance of sunscreen in protecting against the risks of skin cancer, the survey shows that over two in five (43%) of U.S. adults say skin cancer "is not something they worry about." Younger men are significantly more likely to say they do not believe they are at risk for skin cancer than their older counterparts (45% of men ages 18-44, 33% of men ages 55+). 37% of Americans also agree that melanoma is treatable, no matter "what stage it is caught."

"We continue to push the need for self-exams at home and screenings by board-certified dermatologists, as the combination of both exams gives a higher likelihood of identifying skin cancer at earlier stages," said Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "We know that some consumers may look at smartphone applications for guidance, but my recent study shows that these apps are not reliable tools, with three out of four applications incorrectly classifying 30% or more of melanomas as unconcerning.2 There is simply no substitute for seeing a dermatologist for a full skin cancer screening."

"During our skin cancer screenings, we now have the advantage of using MelaFind® on unusual moles which helps us learn about the characteristics of a mole, said Dr. Rigel. "In turn, we're becoming better diagnosticians and are better able to identify melanoma in its most curable stages."

Survey Methodology This survey was conducted online within the United States between January 29th and 31st, 2013, among 2,109 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive on behalf of RPR Marketing Communications via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S.  adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erica Sperling at Rpr Marketing Communications.

About MELA Sciences, Inc. MELA Sciences, Inc. is a medical device company focused on the commercialization of its flagship product, MelaFind®, and its further design and development.  MelaFind is a non-invasive tool to provide additional information to dermatologists during melanoma skin examinations. The device uses light from visible to near-infrared wavelengths to evaluate skin lesions up to 2.5 mm beneath the skin. The device provides information on a lesion's level of morphologic disorganization to provide additional objective information that may be used by dermatologists in the biopsy decision-making process. MelaFind has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in the US. In addition, MelaFind has received CE Mark approval and is approved for use in the European Union.

For more information on MELA Sciences, Inc., visit www.melasciences.com  

Safe Harbor: This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include but are not limited to our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that contain words such as "expects," "contemplates," "anticipates," "plans," "intends," "believes," "assumes," "predicts" and variations of such words or similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends, or that do not relate to historical matters. These statements are based on our current beliefs or expectations and are inherently subject to significant known and unknown uncertainties and changes in circumstances, many of which are beyond our control. There can be no assurance that our beliefs or expectations will be achieved. Actual results may differ materially from our beliefs or expectations due to financial, economic, business, competitive, market, regulatory and political factors or conditions affecting the company and the medical device industry in general, as well as more specific risks and uncertainties facing the company such as those set forth in its reports on Forms 10-Q and 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). Factors that might cause such a difference include whether MelaFind® achieves market acceptance. Given the uncertainties affecting companies in the medical device industry such as the Company, any or all of these forward-looking statements may prove to be incorrect. Therefore, you should not rely on any such factors or forward-looking statements. The Company urges you to carefully review and consider the disclosures found in its filings with the SEC which are available at www.sec.gov and www.melasciences.com.

1 http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-key-statistics 2 Diagnostic Inaccuracy of Smartphone Applications for Melanoma Detection. Joel A. Wolf, BA; Jacqueline Moreau, BA; Oleg Akilov, MD; Timothy Patton, DO; Joseph C. English, MD; Jonhan Ho, MD; Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD JAMA Dermatol. 2013;():1-4. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.2382.

SOURCE MELA Sciences, Inc.