A research team from University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center in Cleveland and the Case Western Reserve University led by Laura B. Campbell, MD, used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries to identify new pediatric melanoma cases between 2000 and 2010.
According to Dr. Campbell, “We took an in-depth look at whether or not the number of new cases of melanoma per year in children and adolescents was increasing in the recent decade.” The research team also investigated the changes in melanoma rates according to sex, type of melanoma, age and body location.
The team identified 1,185 new cases of pediatric melanoma, with the results revealing a 12% decrease per year in new cases between 2004 and 2010. For boys, the decrease was of nearly 7% per year between 2000 and 2010; in young people aged between 15 and 19-years, the decrease was of 11% per year from 2003 to 2010. Furthermore, there was a decrease per year in new cases of pediatric melanoma located on the trunk and upper extremities.
These trends diverge from the increasing incidence of melanoma in American adults, within a similar time frame, and with findings from previous studies of long-term increasing incidence tendencies in the pediatric population.
The authors hypothesize that the lower incidence rates in pediatric melanoma could be related with increased youth participation in indoor activities, successful public health awareness programs, and also an increase in parental awareness on the importance of the use of sun protective actions with young children.
However, as noted by senior author, Jeremy S. Bordeaux, MD, MPH, a dermatologist at UH Case Medical Center and UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, “Although it is encouraging to observe decreasing melanoma incidence overall, it is concerning that this decrease is occurring in those cases of melanoma with good prognostic indicators.”
These results suggest public heath awareness initiatives should continue to focus in promoting sun protective behaviours, including protective clothing in the summer, regular use of sunscreen, decreased indoor tanning and decreased time spent outside, since reducing UV exposure can greatly reduce the incidence of melanoma.