Melanoma Rates Jump 50% for Young Women

All types of skin cancer are on the rise in women.

Particularly concerning is new data from the National Cancer Institute which shows that from 1980 to 2004 melanoma rates rose 50% for young women.

A study of this data, published in the July 10th issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, analyzed 20,000 cases of melanoma in young adults ages 15 to 39. The cases were recorded in a large database maintained by the National Cancer Institute.

The authors found the melanoma rate in young women rose from 9.4 per 100,000 in 1980 to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2004. In young men, melanoma rates remained stable at about 7.7 per 100,000 during the same time period.

Why the significant increase in melanoma in women? It is not likely due to improved detection of melanoma because we would expect that melanoma rates would have increased in both men and in women equally. It is more likely due to increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation, a risk factor for developing melanoma. Other studies of the same time period have shown that:

Melanoma is curable when caught early. It is life-threatening when it has spread. Here’s how to find a melanoma:

Do a self skin exam every 3-6 months, at a minimum.  Have a partner help you with hard to see areas such as the scalp and back. If you have a family history of melanoma, have many moles, or have a history of any type of skin cancer, then see your dermatologist regularly for a complete skin exam. It could save your life.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:

Flip-Flops Linked to Skin Cancer

Does Sun Exposure Cause (or Prevent?) Melanoma?

How to Treat a Sunburn

Skincare Myths: It’s Normal for Moles to Change During Pregnancy

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Photo credit: Michael Cote

4 thoughts on “Melanoma Rates Jump 50% for Young Women”

  1. Incredible! Even beauty magazines are screaming about the importance of sunsceens and yet people still tan! If people are so blase about cancer then maybe a campaign saying that sun exposure is the path to ugly, wrinkled, rough, and mottled skin? What I really wish is that tanning became unfashionable and that instead of a ” sun kissed glow” people would show off how their skin hasn’t darkened a shade after a summer of beach fun!

  2. Amazing that healthy young women are prepared to play Russian Roulette with their future health in this way!

    My mother-in-law (fair skin, red hair) had a malignant melanoma removed from her shin 10+ years ago and that fearsome scar (just like a huge shark bite!) is all the incentive I and my son need to slap on the sun cream.

    With todays apparent obsession with following celebrity trends, maybe we need more pale and beautiful celebs like Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore to be flag-wavers for the “pale is healthy” campaign!

  3. It’s such a shame when this happens to young women. There has to be a cure on the way and I’ve been supporting breast cancer charities for a long time.
    Taking care of your body is one of the hardest things to teach young people these days but one of the most important,

  4. Well, now they say SUNSCREEN can cause cancer…now what?

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