The incidence of skin cancer is on the rise in the United States. Although statistics show that some cancer rates are down, the fact is that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer being diagnosed in the country. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, since the causes are often due to certain behaviors that can be avoided. And yet the recent rise in skin cancer cases may be seen as proof that this type of cancer may not be taken quite as seriously as other types of cancer. Following is information on the demographics of skin cancer incidence throughout the country, as well as steps that can be taken to help prevent the development of the many types of skin cancer.
Skin cancer deaths on the rise
The most recent statistics available from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) show skin cancer deaths to be on the rise. In 2011, more than 70,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with skin melanomas. Of those, more than 40,000 were men and nearly 30,000 were women. The same year’s statistics show that more than 12,000 people in the U.S. died from skin melanomas, and of those more than 8,000 were men and nearly 4,000 were women. The report also points out that melanoma is more common among non-Hispanic whites than in individuals of other races and ethnicities. In fact, more than 9 out of every 10 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in non-Hispanic whites.
Skin cancer demographics
According to the website of the CDC, U.S. states that show the highest incidence of skin cancer include Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. States that show the lowest incidence of skin cancer cases include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. New Jersey’s incidence of skin cancer, according to the CDC’s statistics, is only slightly lower than those states that carry the highest risk. Top dermatologists in the area recommend that all New Jerseyans take heed of these statistics and limit their sun exposure as well as their usage of indoor tanning equipment.
How to reduce your risk
Understanding your risk of developing skin cancer is the first step to avoiding this horrible disease altogether. If you have fair skin, have a family history of skin cancer, or have a weakened immune system, it is vital that you avoid excessive sun exposure and usage of indoor tanning equipment such as tanning beds. But even if you don’t fall into these higher-risk groups, overexposure to the sun and use of tanning equipment can still be dangerous to you. Be sure to protect your skin with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or above. Additionally, it’s important to use protective clothing such as sunglasses and hats while out in the sun. Another important step in safeguarding yourself from skin cancer is to schedule a baseline skin examination with a dermatologist. Finally, pay careful attention to moles and other skin discolorations on your body, track these changes, and report them to your dermatologist or doctor, especially if any bleeding or irregular borders or scaling begin to occur. It’s also important to check in areas that you might not normally think of, such as between your toes, your genital area, and on the soles of your feet.
Clearly, incidence of skin cancer, both diagnoses and deaths, are rising in the United States. The most recent reports point to a number of reasons for this increase. The major risk factors include the fact that Americans are spending more time in the sun without protecting themselves from its potentially harmful rays and increased risk of overexposure. Another factor in these cases is the use of indoor tanning equipment. It seems that, although more products have been introduced in the past decade that provide tanning effects without using harmful tanning beds, Americans are using tanning beds now more than ever.
The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. The overwhelming majority of cases of skin cancer, upwards of 9 out of 10, are linked to UV radiation. Because the biggest risk factor for developing skin cancer is UV radiation from overexposing your skin to the sun and indoor tanning equipment, the best thing to do to avoid developing skin cancer is to avoid these contributors. Top dermatologists in New Jersey recommend eliminating the use of indoor tanning beds that can cause serious complications including skin cancer. Additionally, dermatologists in the area recommend using protective sunscreen at all times while outdoors, especially when you’re exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Children should have sunscreen applied liberally while outside. While fun in the sun is a given for kids, especially in summer, they should be safeguarded at all times from the potentially harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays.