Melanoma is the 7th most common cancer in women and 6th most common cancer in men in the United States. The incidence of melanoma in California, a state with high sun-exposure, is the second most common of all cancers in young people under the age of 40. The 5-year overall survival for young people with malignant melanoma, presenting as a localized region, exceeds 90%. However, despite the lesser disease status, localized melanoma accounts for approximately 10% of all melanoma deaths in young people. Even worse, the 5-year overall survival for regional disease and distant metastatic disease is 65% and 15% respectively. Despite the fact that adolescents and young adults can tolerate high doses of treatment therapies they continue to be treated under less aggressive treatment adult-based guidelines. As we look forward it is important to continue to understand and learn more about the biology of melanomas in these different age groups especially through the role of immunotherapies as well as genetic lesions and progression markers of melanoma.
Source: Kirkwood J, Jukic D, Averbook B et al. Melanoma in Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Patients. Semin Oncol. 2009; 36:419-431.
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