HealthDay News — Melanoma incidence has increased by 253% among children and young adults in the United States 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 in Chicago, Illinois.

“While melanoma incidence continues to rise in the United States, trends in children and young adults groups are poorly defined,” noted Demytra Krista Lee Mitsis, MD, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York and colleagues.

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“Understanding the burden in these groups is critical in developing effective prevention strategies to decrease risk.”

To assess descriptive epidemiology and time-trends in incidence and overall survival of melanoma in patients aged zero to 39 years, from 1973 to 2011, the investigators analyzed 35,726 cases of melanoma.

While women accounted for 57% of melanomas reported between 1973 and 1980, they comprised about 65% of all diagnoses by 2011. The researchers said this is likely because of unsafe tanning practices. While 4% of melanoma cases diagnosed before 1980 were classified as noninvasive and early stage, these cancers accounted for more than 20% of all cases by 2011.

Melanoma survival rates are also on the rise, increasing from 80% in the mid-to-late 1970s to 95% 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,” Mitsis said in an institute news release.


  1. Mitsis DKL et al. Trends in demographics, incidence, and survival in children, adolescents and young adults (AYA) with melanoma: A Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) population-based analysis. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; Chicago, Illinois.