WOMEN'S HEALTH
August 8, 2008

Melanoma's Alarming Rise

A recent report finds that melanoma, one of the deadliest cancers, is on the rise among young women.
Young women don't seem to be getting the message about protecting themselves from the sun's harmful rays, according to a recent report. The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found the number of melanoma cases among young women in the United States has risen sharply — by over 50 percent — from 1980 to 2004. The study did not show a similar increase in young men.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

'... Public education campaigns to educate Americans about the risks of skin cancer from sun tanning do not appear to have resulted in a reduction in melanoma rates among young women.'

The over 50 percent increase in the annual incidence of melanoma occurred in young adult Caucasian women. In the past ten years public education campaigns have targeted changing behaviors that increase the chances of developing melanoma, specifically, sun tanning. Despite these efforts, explained Mark Purdue, lead researcher at the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, this trend "suggests that suggest that public education campaigns to educate Americans about the risks of skin cancer from sun tanning do not appear to have resulted in a reduction in melanoma rates among young women,"

Because the study found an increased rate of discovery of thicker and later-stage melanomas, researchers believe it is unlikely that the higher rates are related to better reporting of the disease.

While public health experts are alarmed by this trend, prevention of melanoma is still very simple: people of all ages should limit sun exposure, particularly in the middle of the day and when this is not possible, should use sunscreen that effectively blocks ultraviolet rays.
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