Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Trends in Incidence of Head and Neck Melanoma in Children and Young Adults

By: Melissa E. Fryman, MS
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019

Head and neck melanoma appears to be on the rise in young people in the United States and Canada, according to a study by Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, BDS, PhD, MPH, CHES, of the Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine, and colleagues. Because the prognosis of head and neck melanoma is significantly worse than that of melanoma at other anatomic sites, increased public health awareness and education are warranted. Results from this retrospective study were published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

“While we found a 51% increase in incidence during the last 2 decades in our study, another important finding is that incidence was greater among males than females,” said Dr. Osazuwa-Peters in an SLU press release. “This is an important finding because melanoma in other parts of the body is usually more common in females than males…. It is therefore important that melanoma prevention campaigns do not only focus on young women.”

In this retrospective analysis, data on 12,462 pediatric, adolescent, and young adult patients with primary head and neck melanoma from the United States and Canada were included. The patients ranged from 0 to 39 years of age, and 54.6% were male.

In the United States, the incidence increased 4.68% per year from 1995 to 2000 and 1.15% per year from 2000 to 2014; the increased incidence was associated most with white men aged 15 to 39 years. In Canada, the incidence increased by 2.18% per year from 1995 to 2014. The age-adjusted incidence rates for male sex, older age, and non-Hispanic white race were 0.55, 0.79, and 0.79, respectively.

“While there has been minimal change in the pediatric population, it seems that this increase is most substantial in white adolescent and young adult males (15–39 years), especially in the United States,” the investigators commented.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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