Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Skinny on Skin Cancer

Often times, when teaching a classroom filled with high school/college students someone will say something to the effect of "But no one really dies from skin cancer" or "Tanning isn't a big deal - it's just hype."

This never ceases to shock me. In fact, comments such as these scare me; it is a stark reminder that I have my work cut out for me when it comes to teaching youth about skin cancer prevention.

With it being summer, many folks are soaking up the sun trying to achieve a coveted shade of bronze; however, before you do here are a few facts to consider. Perhaps, you will think twice before going outside without being armed with ample amounts of sunscreen. I hope, too, that you will make a commitment to forgo the tanning beds.

2007 Skin Cancer Facts and Figures

• More than half of all new cancers diagnosed are skin cancers.
* Every five minutes another woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with skin cancer.
• More than 1.3-million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
• About 79% of new skin cancer cases will be basal cell carcinoma; 16% will be squamous cell carcinoma; 5% will be melanoma—the deadliest form.
• Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas are 95% curable if detected in their early stages.
• An estimated 10,590 people in the United States will die of skin cancer this year; more than 8,000 from melanoma and 2,820 from other skin cancers (such as Merkel cell).
• There will be about 106,000 new cases of melanoma this year – 46,170 in situ (non-invasive) and 59,580 invasive (33,580 men and 26,000women). This is a 10% percent increase in new cases of melanoma from 2004.
• One person dies of melanoma every hour (68-minutes).
• The incidence rate of melanoma more than tripled among Caucasians between 1980 and 2003.
• More than 75% of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
• Melanoma is more common than any other cancer among women between 25 and 29-years-old. (Take, for instance, Colette Coyne, pictured above).
• 1 in 5 Americans will develop some from of skin cancer during their lifetime. (1 in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer in their lifetime).
• Five or more sunburns doubles your risk for skin cancer.
• More than 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
• The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50.
• Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among men over the age 50, exceeding prostate, lung and colon cancer.
• Men over age 40 spend the most time outdoors and have the highest amount of annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
• Melanoma is the third most common cancer in women aged 20 to 39.
• The percentage of women under age 40 with basal cell carcinoma has tripled in the last thirty years, while their rate of squamous cell cancer has increased four-fold.


• Approximately 59,940 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,110 resulting in death.
• More than 20 people die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma.
• 1 in 59 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
• One blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
• While melanoma is fairly uncommon in African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is most deadly for these populations because it is more likely to develop undetected.
• After melanoma has spread, the survival rate falls to between 15 and 65%, depending on how far the disease has spread.
• The cost of melanoma in the United States is more than $740 million annually.

Teens and Tanning

• Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen (cancer-causing), according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
• Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75%.
• Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. use indoor tanning facilities; 2.3 million of them are youth under the age of 18.
• On an average day in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons; 70% are Caucasian women between the ages of 16 and 49.
• People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
• Even occasional use of tanning beds almost triples the chances of developing melanoma.
• New high-pressure sunlamps do, in fact, emit ultraviolet radiation that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.
• The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion annually.
• An estimated 90% of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. These changes can be seen in the late teens and early 20s.

Skin cancer may be the most commonly diagnosed cancer, but it is also the most PREVENTABLE! Make a commitment - here and now - to protect yourself, and those you love, from skin cancer. And, please take a few moments to participate in the polls located to the left of your screen. Thank you!

Yours in the fight,

Learn more about skin cancer (and read more stories like Colette's) in ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Danielle, thank you. I cannot emphasize enough how important these data are. I know from experience

Four years ago, one of my best friends from work died after battling melanoma for three years. She was 37 years old, olive skinned with brown hair. I still miss her.

My mother has repeatedly had plastic surgery on and inside her nose in the same spot for basel cell carcinoma the comes back and comes back.

My father had one of his ears remade, they had to remove so much of it, right into the ear canal.

What's my point? That skin cancer is absolutely, insidiously present among us. And you don't have to be as melanin-deprived as I am to suffer from it -- everyone should be aware.

So if you run out of sunscreen at BlogHer '07, come see me -- I have extra. And I'll share. :)

Lisa Stone
BlogHer Co-founder