An eye-opening new study has found that although rates of melanoma are escalating, they have been rapidly decreasing among younger populations, a sign that sun protection campaigns have had an effective impact.

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle looked at 988,000 invasive melanoma cases collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute between 2001 and 2015 to determine rates of melanoma diagnosis among various age groups. They found that, overall, cases of melanoma have shot up, from 50,272 in 2001 to 83,362 in 2015. Yet, these growing numbers were mainly attributed to adults over 40 years old. In adolescents and young adults, the rates climbed upwards until 2005 and then sharply declined through 2015. They found the incidence rate fell around 4 percent a year for males and 4.5 percent for females.

The authors referred to Australia’s 1981 anti-skin cancer campaign “Slip! Slop! Slap” that promoted a sunscreen-positive culture and saw rates of skin cancer drop. “When I first heard these results, I actually had some tears in my eyes,” said co-senior author Jennifer Garner, MD. “It means that the prevention efforts that we all worked tirelessly to get the message out there for patients to do the work preventing skin cancer might actually be paying off.” 



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