First, the bad news.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says skin cancer rates have doubled over the past three decades in the United States.
Now, some better news.
CDC officials say cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new melanoma cases between 2020 and 2030.
The figures were released today as part of the CDC’s Vital Signs report. Officials said melanoma rates increased from 11 per 100,000 people in 1982 to 22 in 2011. There are no data available for the years after 2011.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is the most deadly type of this disease.
Melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths in the United States each year. In 2011, more than 65,000 melanoma cases were diagnosed.
Cases Will Rise Without Changes
The report states that without additional community prevention measures, rates of skin cancer cases will increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030.
The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases would triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.
Prevention Programs Needed
CDC officials say with increased prevention programs 230,000 melanoma cases could be prevented between now and 2030.
Those programs include education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes.
More than 90 percent of melanoma cases are due to skin cell damage from sun exposure.
“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director. “Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Find some shade if you’re outside, especially in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are most intense, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.”