NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 13, 2004

Although the rate of melanoma is still very low among children (less than one case per 100,000 children), a significant increase has concerned researchers.

According to a National Cancer Institute study:

  • Melanoma among children under 15 increased 60 percent from 1992 to 2001.
  • Between 1973 and 1994, the incidence of melanoma almost doubled for individuals ages 15 to 29; between 1991 and 2001, the melanoma rate for that age group rose 10 percent.
  • Melanoma is now the most diagnosed form of cancer for women ages 22 to 29.
  • Seventy-two percent of teenagers experience at least one sunburn each summer, while 12 percent of teenagers experience five or more sunburns.

The use of tanning beds to achieve the healthy look likely accounts for the melanoma increase in teenaged girls and young women, observers speculate.

In fact, by the time children turn 18, they have received about 80 percent of the typical lifetime UV exposure, say observers. Melanoma is more common among fair-skinned people, but it is more deadly in African-Americans. Health professionals recommend that individuals of all age groups, no matter how young, check their skin for potential problems.

Source: Katherine Bouma, "Child Melanoma Rising," Birmingham News, July 5, 2004; and "Incidence: Melanoma of the Skin," National Cancer Institute -- Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results.


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