12 Things You May Not Know About Skin Cancer

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Skin cancer (non-melanoma) is the most common form of cancer in the United States. You may think you know all of the basic information about this type of cancer, but the following facts may  surprise you.

    More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. It is diagnosed more often than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined and accounts for half of all cancer diagnoses.

    While African Americans, Latinos and Asians have a lower risk of developing skin cancer, when they do it is more deadly than in Caucasians.

    About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) is caused by ultra-violet (UV) exposure. The most common form of UV exposure is the sun’s rays, however, tanning beds and sunlamps also give out UV rays.

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    An average of one person an hour dies from melanoma in the United States. It is estimated that 9,480 people will die from melanoma in the United States this year (2013).

    One-third of all Caucasians will be diagnosed with skin cancer sometime in their life. The percentage for all American’s is one in every five people but for white Americans one in every three will be diagnosed at some point.

    One severe sunburn or five mild sunburns double your risk of developing melanoma. Half of all adults in the U.S. still report having at least one sunburn in the last year.

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in men over 50. Overall men are twice as likely to develop skin cancer than women.

    Some sunscreens only protect against one type of UV rays - UVB. You need to check labels to be sure your sunscreen is protecting you against both UVB and UVA rays.

    Experts recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours, even if the label says it lasts longer.

    Tanning, even when avoiding sunburn, still damages your skin causing premature aging and wrinkles. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “While skin cancer has been associated with sunburn, moderate tanning may also produce the same effect.”

    Certain types of moles can increase your chance of developing melanoma. Annual check-ups and protecting yourself against the sun’s rays can help prevent skin cancer and melanoma.

    Indoor tanning increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Indoor tanning just four times per year can increase your risk of developing skin cancer by 15 percent.


    “Cancer Facts and Figures,” 2013, American Cancer Society

    “Skin Cancer Awareness: Protect Your Skin,” Reviewed 2013, May 20, Staff Writer, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

    “Skin Cancer Facts,” Updated 2013, Staff Writer, Skin Cancer Foundation

Published On: May 29, 2013