The incidence of melanoma has increased in non-Hispanic whites in recent years, particularly in men over 54 years of age and women over 44 years of age, reported Dawn M. Holman, MPH, of the division of cancer prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and her coauthors.

In non-Hispanic white females aged 15 years and older, 131,976 melanomas were diagnosed between January 2010 and December 2014. In non-Hispanic white males, 192,979 melanomas were diagnosed during this time period. More than 70% of melanomas were diagnosed in patients aged 55 years or older, the authors reported. In females, melanoma incidence rates ranged from 4.5/100,000 population in those aged 15-24 years to 60.9/100,000 population in those aged 85 years and older. For males, melanoma incidence ranged from 2.0/100,000 population in those aged 15-24 years to 198.3/100,000 population in men aged 85 years and older.


Investigators analyzed data from the CDC National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. Melanoma incidence rates and average annual counts by 10-year age groups were calculated from January 2010 to December 2014, as was average annual percent change (AAPC) by 10-year age groups from January 2005 to December 2014.

Overall, the increase in melanoma incidence was statistically significant for both males and females 15 years of age and older (AAPC, 1.4; P less than .05). However, melanoma incidence decreased significantly in younger patients aged 15-24 years, 25-34 years, and 35-44 years (AAPC, –5.1, –1.7, and –0.5 respectively; P less than .05), and increased significantly in those aged 55-64 years, 65-74 years, 75-84 years, and older than 85 years (AAPC, 1.3, 2.5, 3.6, and 4.6 respectively; P less than .05). The increase in melanoma incidence was statistically significant in men older than 54 years and in women older than 44 years, Ms. Holman and her associates reported in a research letter in JAMA Dermatology.

The findings suggest that recent decreases in indoor tanning and sunburn prevalence may account for the reduction in melanoma incidence over time, especially in adolescents and young adults, they said.

“Although primary skin cancer prevention efforts have often focused on children, adolescents, and young adults, the steady increase in melanoma incidence rates among older adults indicates a need for efforts that promote skin cancer preventive behaviors throughout adulthood. Such efforts could focus on groups at high risk, such as outdoor workers and intentional tanners,” Ms. Holman and her associates concluded.

The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest. The study was partially supported by appointments to the CDC Research Participation Program through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy.

SOURCE: Holman DM et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2018 Jan 31. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.5541.