The number of children diagnosed with melanoma is dropping in the United States. The overall number of new melanoma cases in children has fallen by 12% each year from 2004 to 2010, according to a study.
This rapid drop is primarily thanks to public education programs about the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or in tanning salons. Parents are more aware of the importance of applying sunscreen and using other protections against the sun, such as hats and long-sleeved shirts.
However, the study also noted that a secondary reason for the decrease could be that children are spending less time playing outdoors and more time playing indoors.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland examined data from cancer registries that represent about 28% of the U.S. population looking for new cases of melanoma in children. They found 1,185 cases between 2000 and 2010.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that in teens 15 to 19 years old, cases of melanoma decreased by almost 8% a year for boys from 2000 to 2010, and by 11% per year for girls.
The percentage of new cases of melanoma on the trunk and arms of children decreased. However, the percentage of cases that have indications of a good prognosis also decreased. "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," said Jeremy S. Bordeaux, MD, senior author of the study and a dermatologist at UH Case Medical Center and UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
The findings of this study are in contrast to previous reports of an increasing incidence of melanoma in the pediatric population. Studies have found an increasing incidence of melanoma in adults in the United States between 2000 and 2010.