Why Are Younger People Getting Melanoma?

Why Are Younger People Getting Melanoma?

Many people think of cancer as an older person's disease. With the median age of diagnosis coming at 66 years old, there is some truth to this belief. However, cancer can strike at any age. Melanoma, one of the most common types of cancer in young adults, is a perfect example.

 Complex general surgical oncologist Dr. Trevan Fischer treats everything from melanoma and other skin cancers to conditions that require minimally invasive surgery using the latest surgical techniques at his private practice in Santa Monica, California. 

Through his involvement with cutting-edge clinical trials at the Saint John's Cancer Institute, he keeps abreast of the latest findings and recommendations regarding care and treatment options.


Melanoma occurs in the cells that make melanin — the pigment that creates the skin's color. It is often found on areas of the body exposed to the sun. However, it can also develop in the eyes and, on rare occasions, the nose, throat, and other places inside the body.


Two common signs are either an existing mole changing in appearance or a new strange-looking growth on the skin.

 Normal moles are usually one color, oval or round, and have distinct borders. Unusual moles can often be identified using the "ABCDE" test, which looks for the following:

Age and melanoma

Melanoma risk in those under 40 years old seems to be increasing. This is particularly true of women. Risk factors are the same regardless of age, including exposure to damaging ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds. Having fair skin, experiencing sunburns, and living near the equator or at a higher altitude can also increase melanoma risk. A family history, having many or unusual moles, and being immunocompromised can also increase the odds.

Diagnosis and treatment

Timely diagnosis is critical for the best possible outcome. When detected early, the five-year survival rate is 99% for people in the United States. However, this number drops to 68% if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and 30% if it has reached distant organs.

 Diagnosis is made during a biopsy. If the results indicate melanoma, the cancer and surrounding tissue are removed. In some cases, a biopsy of the lymph node closest to the cancer may be recommended as well to determine if it has spread. Potential further treatment depends on the results and the cancer's stage.

 Whether you've discovered a new or different growth or have already been diagnosed with melanoma, Dr. Fischer can help. Click to book an appointment or call the office today at 310-807-2688.

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