Just plain bad news confirmed: The childhood melanoma rate is rising

November 4, 2005

The rate of melanoma among children and young adults rose dramatically between 1973 and 2001, according to a study in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "Between the years 1973 and 2001, the incidence of pediatric melanoma increased 2.9% per year and 46% per year of age," says John Strouse, MD, a pediatric oncologist and instructor in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University and author of the article.

The rate of melanoma among children and young adults rose dramatically between 1973 and 2001, according to a study in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Between the years 1973 and 2001, the incidence of pediatric melanoma increased 2.9% per year and 46% per year of age," says John Strouse, MD, a pediatric oncologist and instructor in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University and author of the article.

Dr. Strouse advocates that parents limit the time their child is exposed to the sun and inspect the child's skin for changes in moles or freckles. He also attributes the increase in the incidence of melanoma in part to the growing use of tanning salons, especially among high school girls. Among the findings of the study:

  • The incidence of pediatric melanoma increased with variables such as white race, female gender, increased age, and greater exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • Survival at 5 years was approximately 94% among children in whom melanoma was diagnosed
  • Survival was lowest in the presence variables that included male gender, white race, earlier year of diagnosis, older age, more advanced disease, location of the cancer on parts of the body other than the torso and extremities, and a history of cancer.

Dr. Strouse expressed hope that the findings of his study will serve as a reminder to parents and doctors that melanoma can occur in young children, older children, and young adults.