Melanoma Dramatically Increasing in Young Adults


Since 1973, melanoma has increased by more than 250% among children, adolescents and young adults, according to research1 by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 51st Annual Meeting in Chicago on June 1.

Roswell Park scientists determined that the number of cases of melanoma diagnosed in children, adolescents and young adults increased by 253% from 1973 to 2011.

"Given the epidemic rise of melanoma cases diagnosed among children, adolescents and young adults, it is imperative that new research initiatives are implemented, genetic and environmental risk factors identified, and effective prevention and screening strategies employed," says Demytra Mitsis, MD, lead author of the study and a Fellow in the Department of Medical Oncology at Roswell Park.

Facts from Data Analysis

  • 35,726 cases of melanoma identified among individuals less than 40 years of age from 1973 to 2011.
  • 98% of the melanoma cases were diagnosed among adolescents and young adults (aged 1539 years), and 32 years was the median age.
  • Females comprised 57% of reported cases from 1973 to 1980 and 65.2% of reported cases from 2001 to 2011.
  • The Roswell Park team's evaluation revealed that the proportion of noninvasive, early-stage melanoma cases increased from 4% of cases for the period 1973 to 1980 to more than 20% of all melanoma cases in 2011.
  • Survival rates also have increased—from 80% for the period 1973–1980 to 95% in 2011.

"The reality is that melanoma is the third most common cancer in those 15 to 39 years old, and these numbers have been steadily increasing. This is a national problem that needs to be addressed, and it begins with awareness and effective prevention strategies," adds senior author Nikhil Khushalani, MD, Section Chief for Soft Tissue and Melanoma.



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