JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Risk factors and outcomes of cutaneous melanoma in women less than 50 years of age.

BACKGROUND: Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, with recent reports indicating increasing incidence among young women.

OBJECTIVE: This study sought to investigate histopathology, staging, risk factors, and outcomes of cutaneous melanoma in women younger than 50 years.

METHODS: All female patients aged up to 49 years with biopsy-proven diagnosis of melanoma between 1988 and 2012 were included. Patients with a follow-up of less than 2 years were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 462 patients were identified, with mean age of 34.7 years. Invasive melanoma was less common in women 19 years of age or younger (P < .0008). Positive sentinel node status (P < .008), recurrence rates, metastatic disease (P < .001), and death rates (P < .008) were higher for women ages 40 to 49 years. The 41 patients with a pregnancy-associated melanoma had a significantly worse prognosis in comparison with a control group of nonpregnant patients, with a 9-fold increase in recurrence (P < .001), 7-fold increase in metastasis (P = .03) and 5-fold increase in mortality (P = .06).

LIMITATIONS: This was a retrospective study.

CONCLUSION: The increasing incidence of melanoma for women younger than 50 years suggests that regular skin checks and self-examinations are warranted. In addition, in women given the diagnosis of melanoma during or within 1 year after childbirth, regular follow-up and monitoring for recurrence are recommended.

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