Deadly Skin Cancer Cases on the Rise, CDC Warns
The rate of new melanoma cases has doubled in the past 30 years, according to a new Vital Signs report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from too much exposure to UV rays from the sun or sources such as indoor tanning, according to the CDC. Melanoma rates increased from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011.
Despite the increase, federal health authorities say comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent one-fifth of new cases between 2020 and 2030. The federal report notes that without additional community prevention efforts, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030. The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases is estimated to nearly triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.
This CDC report also shows that melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths each year. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. In 2011, more than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed. By 2030, according to the report, effective community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 230,000 melanoma skin cancers and save $2.7 billion dollars in treatment costs. Successful programs feature community efforts that combine education, mass media campaigns and policy changes to increase skin protection for children and adults.
Researchers reviewed data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program to help determine the increase in melanoma rates. “The rate of people getting melanoma continues to increase every year compared to the rates of most other cancers, which are declining,” said Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs.”
Federal health authorities recommend communities take action to help reduce the risk of skin cancer. City leaders can help protect their residents by increasing shade on playgrounds, at public pools and other public spaces, promote sun protection in recreational areas, encourage employers, childcare centers, schools and colleges to educate about sun safety and skin protection and restrict the availability and use of indoor tanning by minors.
Bon Secours Health System is joining the cause and our physicians encourage everyone to protect themselves from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt. Seek shade, especially during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are most damaging. If you are planning to be exposed to the sun make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
For more information on Bon Secours skin screenings or cancer services, please visit www.bonsecours.com or call 804-359-WELL .