April 3, 2012

Cutaneous melanoma is the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma ranks as the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in women. However, among young adults (18 to 39), melanoma is the second most common invasive cancer (breast cancer is number one). While the lifetime risk for melanoma in males is 1.5 times greater than in females, the ratio is reversed in young adults, with the ratio as high as 1.8 for some age groups.

A recent study published in the April edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that the incidence of melanoma increased by 4-fold for young males and by 8-fold for young females from 1970 to 2009. (The study involved analyzing data regarding young adults in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1970 through 2009.)

The researchers stated that the behavior of young women may help explain the differences in the rates of melanoma between young men and young women, specifically highlighting that young women tend to use tanning beds (which exposes them to UV light) more than young men (the use of tanning beds significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma).

Sunburns in childhood and adolescence also increase the risk of developing melanoma over a lifetime. High-risk behaviors such as indoor tanning and exposure to sunburns are increasingly common among young men and young women, despite public health warnings and public health educational efforts to the contrary.

The study also found that the location of cutaneous melanoma differed between young men and young women. Melanoma was most commonly found on the back followed by the upper extremity in men, while women most commonly had cutaneous melanoma found on their lower extremity followed by their upper extremity.

The researchers noted that despite the increase in the incidence of cutaneous melanoma in young adults, the mortality rate is decreasing. Nonetheless, the researchers stress the importance of actively intervening to reduce the risk factors for cutaneous melanoma in young adults and they emphasize the importance of skin cancer examinations (screenings) in young adults.


The misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancers such as melanoma can significantly affect the quality of life of cancer patients as well as their life expectancy. The failure of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and others to timely refer patients with questionable or suspected conditions to cancer specialists, such as dermatologists for skin cancer, that are later diagnosed to be cancer may be medical negligence and may be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one’s cancer was misdiagnosed or late diagnosed, you should promptly contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate whether there may be a basis for bringing a medical malpractice claim for your devastating injuries and losses.

Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you in investigating your possible medical malpractice claim and to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf, if appropriate.

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