Photo by Fred Benenson

Data Show Skyrocketing Skin Cancer Rates

Studies Show Skin Cancer Rates Skyrocketing

Written By: SERO Staff

Photo credit: Fred Benenson, Creative Commons License

Skin Cancer Rates Continue to Rise Around the Globe

Data from around the world show that skin cancer, long identified as the most common type of cancer globally, is still on the rise.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a type of skin cancer, and, according to Skin Cancer Foundation Statistics, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

According to Skin Cancer Foundation Statistics, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in his or her lifetime.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Rates Jump 300 Percent

These numbers support an alarming trend: more and more people are developing skin cancer every year. According to a research study published in the medical journal Archives of Dermatology in 2010, the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer has increased at a distressing rate over the past decades.

The study’s research team, including lead author Howard Rogers, MD, calculated that an estimated 3.5 million new incidences of nonmelanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in 2 million patients every year in the United States, an increase of approximately 300 percent since the numbers were last estimated in 1994. These estimates include roughly 2.8 million incidences of basal cell carcinoma and 700,00 incidences of squamous cell carcinoma per year.

According to an 2010 research study, the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer has jumped by roughly 300 percent since 1994.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer refers to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In the study and treatment of the three major types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma—basal and squamous cell are grouped together, while melanoma is typically studied in on its own. This is because melanoma is far deadlier than the other two, is much less common, and must be handled and treated differently.

Melanoma Also On the Rise

While melanoma only accounts for 2 percent of skin cancer diagnosis, it is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths. And like the data on nonmelanoma skin cancers, rates of melanoma have also been rising for at least 30 years.

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • ~73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed every year in the U.S.
  • ~9,940 people are expected to die of melanoma.

Protecting Ourselves from Epidemic Skin Cancer

Given the overwhelming data that supports the notion of rising incidences of skin cancer, the commonness of skin cancer in the general public, and the alarming speed at which rates are rising, skin cancer should be considered an urgent public health issue.

Incidence of skin cancer per year is greater than that of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined.

Since nonmelanoma skin cancer is highly treatable and rarely life-threatening, people may be letting their guard down and failing to take proper precautions to protect their skin health. But even though basal and squamous cell carcinomas can be cured with little lasting damage if caught early, the development of any skin cancer puts people at tremendous risk down the road.

It is thus important to keep awareness high and get the word out about the dangers of skin cancer, as well as the easy ways in which we can help protect ourselves from harm. Before deciding to spend too much time in the sun or visit the tanning bed, keep in mind:

  • When someone develops skin cancer, they are at a very high risk of developing future skin cancer.
  • People who have developed nonmelanoma cancers are at much higher risk of developing melanoma.
  • Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer and may spread to anywhere in the body.
  • The risk of developing other cancers, such as lung, colon, and breast cancers, double in people who have had nonmelanoma skin cancer.