Melanoma rates rising in US children

April 3, 2013 by Denise Mann, Healthday Reporter
Melanoma rates rising in U.S. children
Deadly skin cancer still rare in kids, but long-term study found 2 percent yearly increase among whites.

(HealthDay)—Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, doesn't usually occur in kids, but a new study shows that it's happening more often.

While in is still extremely rare, the rate increased by about 2 percent per year from 1973 to 2009 among U.S children from to age 19. Melanoma accounts for up to 3 percent of all , according to the Foundation.

According to the study, 1,317 children were diagnosed with melanoma during the study time frame. Of these, 1,230 children were white. Because the number of melanoma cases among other racial and ethnic groups was so small, researchers focused the analysis on white children.

The biggest jump in melanoma rates was seen among adolescents aged 15 to 19, especially girls, the study showed.

The new findings were published in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

Recent studies have also shown that melanoma is on the rise among adults as well. Exactly what is driving these trends is not fully understood, but increased exposure to from both the sun and tanning booths as well as greater awareness of melanoma may be responsible, according to study authors led by Jeannette Wong of the U.S. .

The researchers used a database to capture trends in childhood melanoma, but they did not have any information on participants' tanning habits or history.

Boys were more likely to develop melanomas on their face and trunks, while girls were more likely to have melanoma on their lower legs and hips, the investigators found. Other risks for melanoma among children and adults include fair skin, light-colored hair and eyes, moles, family history of melanoma and a history of sunburns.

Dr. Amy Forman Taub, a in Lincolnshire, Ill., said that tanning behaviors have a lot to do with the increasing rates of melanoma in children and adults. "It's the and the fact that we go away on vacation where we are exposed to a lot of intense sun," she said.

Genes may also play a role, suggested Taub, who was not involved in the new study.

Melanoma in kids looks pretty similar to melanoma in adults, Taub said. They have irregular borders, are asymmetrical—if you cut them in half, you would not get two equal sides—have uneven colors, and a diameter that is greater than 6 millimeters (about one-fifth of an inch). "Parents should be aware of any new or changing moles in their children," she advised.

Choosing a sunscreen that blocks both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays and reapplying it frequently is important, she said. Sun-smart clothing can also help protect children.

Dr. Ana Duarte, director of pediatric dermatology at Miami Children's Hospital, agreed. "Early diagnosis of melanoma is beneficial," she said, and the importance of protection can't be overstated. "Sunscreen and or sun protection are so important for children," Duarte said, and whatever you do, "don't ignore changing moles, even in children, because melanoma can occur in kids."

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the new study puts childhood melanoma on the radar, and that's a good thing.

"It is rare, but children do get melanoma," Green said. "When in doubt, get it checked out. The good news is that we know how to prevent melanoma, and when we catch it early, we have really good cure rates."

Explore further: Melanoma up to 2.5 times likelier to strike transplant, lymphoma patients

More information: What does melanoma look like? Find out at the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Related Stories

Melanoma up to 2.5 times likelier to strike transplant, lymphoma patients

October 3, 2012
Melanoma is on the rise nationally, and transplant recipients and lymphoma patients are far likelier than the average person to get that form of skin cancer and to die from it, a Mayo Clinic review has found. That is because ...

What you need to know about sunburns and tanning

May 10, 2012
(AP) -- Roughly half of young adults under 30 say they've had a sunburn in the past year. Not a big deal?

Researchers study childhood melanoma characteristics

September 7, 2012
Melanoma, newly diagnosed in more than 76,000 Americans in 2011, is the most common and dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma is rare in children, accounting for 1 to 4 percent of all melanoma cases and just 3 percent of ...

Risk of second primary melanoma up in pediatric patients

June 28, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Pediatric patients diagnosed with an invasive cutaneous melanoma have nearly double the relative risk of developing a subsequent primary melanoma, compared with adults, according to a study published online ...

UV photographs of 12-year-olds show skin cancer risk

March 28, 2012
Look at a middle school assembly – during their lifetime one in 50 of these kids will develop melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer that kills 48,000 people every year, worldwide. Now look at these kids again ...

Invasive melanoma may be more likely in children than adults

October 5, 2011
A Johns Hopkins Children's Center study of young people with melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, has found that some children have a higher risk of invasive disease than adults.

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.