Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. It is so common that it is predicted that in the course of a lifetime, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Although most skin cancers are treatable in the early stages, people still die of this type of cancer, and especially from melanoma. One sobering statistic provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation is that one person dies of melanoma almost every hour. How do we prevent this from happening? Awareness and education about skin cancer is essential. Many people believe that skin cancer is something which happens to other people but won’t affect them. The truth is that skin cancer can affect anybody.
Who gets skin cancer?
Children and teens get it…
• Although it is considered rare, children can get melanoma. The incidence of melanoma for the population who is younger than 20 years of age, has been increasing over the decades.
• Ninety percent of pediatric melanoma cases occur in girls who are between the ages of 10-19.
• According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting a diagnosis and treatment is delayed in 40 percent of childhood melanoma cases.
• If you are a child or teen living in the UK, you are part of a population which has the highest rates of pediatric skin cancer of any European country. The British Association of Dermatologists cites research to show that the incidence of melanoma among UK teens has increased four times from 1978 to 1997.
Young adults get it…
• According to The American Academy of Dermatology melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults between the ages of 25-29 years old.
• News reports cite a significant increase in the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers in young adults, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
• Some say that part of the increase in both melanoma and squamous cell skin cancers among young adults may be correlated with tanning bed use. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, has linked sunbed tanning among young people with the development of skin cancer in this population. If you used tanning beds in your teens and twenties you are upping your risk for developing a potentially deadly melanoma by 75%.
People of all races and ethnicities get it…
• Although people with light skin who sunburn easily are most at risk for developing skin cancer, people with darker skin can get skin cancer too.
• African Americans are more likely to die from melanoma than Caucasians because they are more frequently diagnosed at a later stage of the disease when treatment is less effective.
• The Skin Cancer Foundation cites statistics to show that the overall melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent compared to 91 percent for Caucasians.
• Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer among African Americans and Asian Indians.
• Melanomas in African Americans and Asians more frequently develop on skin areas having less pigment. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that for these populations, up to 75% of melanoma lesions are discovered on the palms of the hand, soles of the feet, mucous membranes or the nail area.
Men and women get it…
• The majority of melanoma cases are diagnosed in white men who are over fifty years of age. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that men over forty have the highest annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation but are the least likely to get an annual skin exam or to recognize the early stages of melanoma.
• One in 58 women will develop melanoma in her lifetime. Women who are younger than 40 seem to be particularly vulnerable to developing skin cancer. The annual incidence of melanoma among young women has dramatically increased by as much as fifty percent from the years 1980 to 2004. Basal cell carcinoma has also increased for women who are under 40 with rates doubling over the past thirty years. (Source: Skin Cancer Foundation statistics).
The bottom line is that anybody can get skin cancer regardless of your age, sex, or race. Be aware of the signs of skin cancer. Read the information about how to prevent skin cancer. In addition, we have many informational articles to help you. Here are just some of the resources found on SkinCancerConnection to help you become an informed and knowledgeable patient. Nobody has to die of skin cancer. Let’s do our part in spreading the word about early detection and treatment.
Published On: November 29, 2010