Melanoma- Increasing in Children

melanomaMelanoma, once a disease of adults, is now affecting more and more children.  I remember early in my career, a dermatologist presenting at a conference saying that you just wont’ see melanoma in children ever.  Well this study should be a wake-up call. Over the 36 years from 1973 to 2009 the incidence of melanoma in whites rose by 2% a year or a whopping 72%. While I still haven’t seen a case, it clearly needs to be on our radar. 

The most likely reasons for this rise has to do with the use of sun screens which especially in the earlier years would block the sun burning UVB rays but allow the deeper penetrating UVA rays though.  It was the UVA rays that would cause the melanoma, but people could stay in the sun so much longer with the sun screens and thus increase their risks for melanoma.  Despite improved sun screens, and a severe phobia of the sun, it seems our rates of melanoma continue to rise.  It may be that the use of sunscreen still tricks us into thinking we can spend more time in the sun, and thus still getting too much UVA, the rays that are melanoma causing.

Dr. Paul


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