More Young Women Get Skin Cancer

A new data review suggests that more and more young women are getting melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer. The review also reports that melanoma is more prevalent in young women but not among young men.

The researchers examined data involving women aged 15 to 39. The team of researchers led by Mark Purdue of the National Institutes of Health, analyzed data from a network of cancer registries across the United States in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.

Data reviewers examination zeroed in on white females diagnosed between 1973 and 2004. The team found that the increase in the incidence of melanomas in women began in the 1990s. For men, the incidence of melanoma remained fairly steady from 1980 to 2004.

The team also noted that more and more young women have thicker and metastatic melanomas during that time period. They suggest that the increase is not the result of changes in the way the medical community tracks down the disease.

However, researchers admit that the cause for the increase in melanoma incidence in women is not exactly clear.

Separate studies looked at possible causes and suggest sun damage trends. Here are some of the researchers’ reports:

  • In the U.S., more and more people are getting sunburn (though there have been no age group trends reported).
  • People between 16 and 18 had a higher incidence of sunburn and it is reported that people of this age spend more time at the beach in 2004 than in 1998.
  • More young people in the U.S., especially women, use tanning beds. Studies suggest that Ultraviolet rays from tanning beds and tanning lamps are also just as harmful as sun rays.

Ultraviolet radiation is identified as a main risk factor for developing melanoma. The study is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology July 2008.