According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Despite that prevalence, skin cancer remains the proverbial elephant in the room, a disease men and women are certainly aware of, but many prefer not to think about.
Thanks to a societal trend that associates a deep tan with beauty, many people prefer to avoid the subject of skin cancer. However, as the following facts and figures about skin cancer attest, skin cancer is a topic that cannot be ignored and one men, women and children alike need to learn about to better reduce their risk of experiencing this largely preventable disease.
• According to the American Cancer Society, men are more likely to develop non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers than women. In fact, the National Cancer Institute notes the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over the age of 50.
• The rate of skin cancers increases with age. However, skin cancers, and especially melanomas, can be found in younger people.
• The five-year overall survival rate for melanoma, which represents the percentage of patients who live at least five years after diagnosis, is 91 percent. This includes patients who are disease-free, in remission or under treatment.
• The five-year localized survival rate for melanoma is 98 percent. Localized cancer represents cancer that, at the time of diagnosis, has not spread to other parts of the body.
• The NCI’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program notes that nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer.
• Basal cell carcinoma, a slow-growing and painless type of nonmelanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Roughly 2.8 million cases of BCC are diagnosed annually in the U.S. Though rarely fatal, BCCs can be unsightly if the cancer is allowed to grow.
• According to the NCI, between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancer at least once.
• Roughly 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from the sun.
• According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, melanoma accounts for less than 5 percent of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
• The World Health Organization reports that 10 minutes in a tanning bed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.