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Melanoma skin cancer cases surge among young women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Mayo Clinic researchers find surge in melanoma skin cancer in young adults.

Rates of melanoma have dramatically increased, especially among young women. Researchers say the alarming rise in skin cancer rates is likely due to use of indoor tanning beds seen among young adults.

Tanning beds likely contribute to rise in skin cancer

The finding, which comes from Mayo Clinic researchers, found even higher rates of the skin cancer than reported by the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result database, with an especially dramatic rise among women in their 20s and 30s.

One of the reasons for surges in melanomas is from use of tanning bed and sunburns that occur early in life.

Melanoma survival rates have improved with new treatment options, but it still remains the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Dr. Jerry Brewer and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found higher incidences of melanoma, but they also found mortality rates have dropped 9%.

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Data for the study was collected from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, which was started in 1996 in Olmstead County, Minnesota that might not reflect the general population.

"We anticipated we'd find rising rates, as other studies are suggesting," Brewer said in media statement, "But we found an even higher incidence than the National Cancer Institute had reported using the (SEER) database, and in particular, a dramatic rise in women in their 20s and 30s."

From Jan. 1, 1970, to Dec. 31, 2009, the incidence of melanoma per 100,000 residents age, 18 to 39, rose from 4.8 in 1970 to 1979 to 30.8 in 2000 to 2009.

Cases in men went up from 4.3 per 100,000 residents to 18.6 in 40 years. For women, the increase was dramatic; escalating from 5.4 to 43.5 cases per 100,000 residents. Brewer said, "The rise in tanning bed behavior over the years is probably a major contributor.” The study shows melanoma rates are on the rise, striking younger adults; especially young women. Early detection may be responsible for better survival rates.

Reed KB, et al
"Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: an epidemiologic study in Olmsted County, Minnesota"
Mayo Clin Proceeding; DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.01.010.
April 2012

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