ASCO: Melanoma rates increasing for young Americans

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ASCO: Melanoma Rates on the Rise for U.S. Youth
ASCO: Melanoma Rates on the Rise for U.S. Youth

(HealthDay News) -- Melanoma incidence has increased by 253 percent among U.S. children and young adults since the 1970s, and young women appear to be especially vulnerable, accounting for two-thirds of cases diagnosed in 2011. These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.

For the study, investigators analyzed 35,726 cases of melanoma among patients younger than age 40 and diagnosed between 1973 and 2011. Ninety-eight percent of the cases involved teens and young adults between 15 and 39.

While women accounted for 57 percent of melanomas reported between 1973 and 1980, they comprised about 65 percent of all diagnoses by 2011. The researchers said this is likely because of unsafe tanning practices. While 4 percent of melanoma cases diagnosed before 1980 were classified as noninvasive and early stage, these cancers accounted for more than 20 percent of all cases by 2011. Melanoma survival rates are also on the rise, increasing from 80 percent in the mid-to-late 1970s to 95 percent in 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," lead author Demytra Krista Lee Mitsis, M.D., of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., said in an institute news release.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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