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Young adults, particularly people aged 40 years and younger, are experiencing a dramatic increase in skin cancer, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. Melanoma incidence has risen, and young women in their 20s and 30s have been hit the hardest, according to a recent study.1

Mayo Clinic dermatologist Jerry Brewer, MD, notes that the rates are higher than the National Cancer Institute reported using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. He and colleagues looked at first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients aged 18 to 39 years from 1970 to 2009 and found an 8-fold increase among young women and a 4-fold increase in young men. They note that the use of indoor tanning beds may play a role in the rising rate in young women. Although the lifetime risk of melanoma is higher in males, the opposite is true for young adults and adolescents, Dr. Brewer says. At the same time, they found that the disease mortality rate has improved through the years.

Researchers say their results indicate the need for active interventions to reduce risk factors and to continue educating young women about the carcinogenic effects of tanning beds.

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  • 1
    KB Reed, JD Brewer, CM Lohse, et al. Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: an epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clin Proc. 2012; 87: 323-334.