Teenagers and Tanning: Risk of Melanoma

Teenage girls who frequented tanning salons in the 1990’s account for a sharp rise in melanoma patients in their 20’s and 30’s currently being diagnosed with melanoma. Pre-prom tanning sessions are responsible in many instances for an increase in cases of melanoma seen in women now aged 25-34. Even a single tanning session can significantly increase the risk of developing melanoma, and the latency period between intensified exposure and appearance of melanoma is anywhere from 5 to 20 years. The location of melanomas in parts of the body not usually exposed to the sun, such as on the breasts or in the genital area, also lends credence the association between teenage tanning and melanoma development in young women.

Data collected by the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) program, show a dramatic jump in the cases of melanoma in young white women.(1) Since 1995, the annual incidence of melanoma among young, white U.S. women rose by an average of 3.8%, compared with each preceding year. For women aged 25-29, the incidence of melanoma was 14 per 100,00 in 2004-6, a 42% relative jump from 1994-6. For the slightly older age group of women 30-34 years old, the incidence of melanoma was 16 per 100,000, a 32% relative jump from a decade earlier.

Young women with a known history of any exposure to tanning beds should be evaluated for possible skin cancer. Melanoma is curable if diagnosed early. Dr. Olivia Hutchinson, a female board certified plastic surgeon in NYC, performs excision and reconstruction of pre-cancerous, malignant and benign skin lesions. Please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400 for a consultation.

1. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Feb 2;103(3):171. StatBite: Melanoma Incidence: 1992-2007.

Posted in: Medical News, Skin

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