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Collaborating to Prevent Melanoma

New Hampshire State Cancer Registry

A partnership between the New Hampshire Environmental Public Health Tracking Program and the New Hampshire State Cancer Registry examined trends in melanoma incidence in New Hampshire residents from 1992 to 2006.

Overall, melanoma incidence increased dramatically and significantly both nationally and in New Hampshire from 1992 to 2006. New Hampshire's five-year melanoma incidence rates for 2002–2006 were similar to those of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program comparison rates for most age-gender groups.

However, the 2002–2006 rate for New Hampshire females aged 15–39 years was 38% higher than that of SEER non-Hispanic whites in that age group. While some of this striking increase likely resulted from improved case ascertainment practices, the marked difference in ratios suggested a real change in melanoma rates in this group in our state. The most likely explanation for a true incidence increase of this magnitude may relate to ultraviolet radiation exposure—the leading cause of melanoma—although our analysis could not examine this hypothesis.

Our results [PDF-969KB] were presented to the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration's Sun Safety Work Group (SSWG), providing evidence to reinforce their work on teens and tanning. Their projects include increasing awareness of the dangers of indoor tanning and working to strengthen the laws around teens and tanning. As part of one of their projects, the SSWG teamed up with the Melanoma Foundation of New England to present a Teen Tanning forum on March 23, 2011, in Concord, New Hampshire, for all New Hampshire high school students. This forum helped teens understand myths about tanning and the facts about melanoma and find out how to bring sun safety and skin cancer prevention messages to their schools and community.

It will be important to monitor trends in melanoma incidence in future years to assess the impact of such cancer prevention efforts.

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