Myth: Melanoma is epidemic among young women

Below is a chart of melanoma incidence among white 20-49 year olds (“young women”) during 1975-2010, from the National Cancer Institute. Note that the reported incidence of melanoma among young women has increased from about 10 cases per 100,000 young women to about 22 cases per 100,000 young women.

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Though at first glance this may seem alarming, consider the graph below charting the melanoma death rate among young white women. Note that the death rate from melanoma among young white women has declined by almost 50%.

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So while the the incidence of melanoma has about doubled, the death rate from melanoma has paradoxically been halved. Why?

It’s likely that melanoma awareness campaigns have led to a dramatic increase in the detection and diagnoses of benign or non-fatal melanomas, and there has been no obvious increase, much less epidemic of malignant melanomas among young white women.

Finally, as the Skin Cancer Foundation admits:

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