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August 2018

Rates of Melanoma: Down Among Young Adults, Up Among Boomers

Each year, more than 70,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma—the deadliest type of skin cancer—and more than 9,000 people die from the disease.

Older woman at the beach, with bottle of sunscreen

When researchers recently looked at melanoma rates across different age groups, they found that fewer young adults are developing melanoma, but that rates are rising among older adults. The findings are published in JAMA Dermatology.

Melanoma rates for adults ages 55 and up

Researchers analyzed data from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute. Specifically, they looked at melanoma rates among non-Hispanic whites, because this group has the highest risk for the disease.

When researchers looked at melanoma rates by age, they found that between 2005 and 2014, there was a decrease in the incidence of melanoma among men and women ages 15 to 44 years old. But the rate of melanoma increased significantly among adults ages 55 and older.

Skin cancer prevention efforts—such as discouraging the use of indoor tanning and protecting against sunburn—have been aimed at teens and young adults, and have been successful. But according to researchers, efforts to encourage behaviors that reduce the risk for skin cancer should be promoted among all age groups.

Wear sunscreen, seek shade, and shield your skin

No matter your age, here’s how you can reduce your risk for melanoma:

  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

  • Seek shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Wear sun-protective clothing.


In addition, regularly examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. This page from the American Academy of Dermatology will show you how.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/20/2018
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