Check for Skin Cancer

Everyone is at risk.
  • More than 2 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually.
  • Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common forms of skin cancer, but both are easily treated if detected early.
  • Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
  • Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for at least 30 years. In the most recent time period, rapid increases have occurred among young, white women (3 percent per year since 1992 in those ages 15 to 39) and white adults 65 years and older (5.1 percent per year since 1985 in men and 4.1 percent per year since 1975 in women).
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and adults 15-29 years old.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females age 15-29 than males in the same age group. In these females, the torso is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors.
  • Melanoma in individuals 10-39 years old is highly curable, with five-year survival rates exceeding 90 percent.
  • One in 58 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime. Caucasians and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.
  • It was estimated that there will be about 114,900 new cases of melanoma in 2010 — 46,770 noninvasive (in situ) and 68,130 invasive (38,870 men and 29,260 women).
  • One American dies of melanoma almost every hour. In 2010, it is estimated that 8,700 deaths will be attributed to melanoma — 5,670 men and 3,030 women.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 65,161 people a year worldwide die from too much sun, mostly from malignant skin cancer.
  • People who have more than 50 moles, atypical moles, or a family history of melanoma are at an increased risk of developing melanoma.
  • Approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
  • The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent.
  • Five-year survival rates for regional and distant stage melanomas are 62 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
  • In 2004, the total direct cost associated with the treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer was $1.5 billion.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends a skin cancer-related checkup and counseling about sun exposure as part of any periodic health examination beginning at age 20.
  • Individuals who have a history of melanoma should have a full-body exam at least annually and perform regular self-exams for new and changing moles.

1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2010.
2. Robinson JK. Sun Exposure, Sun Protection, and Vitamin D. JAMA 2005; 294: 1541-43.
3. Linos E, Swetter S, Cockburn MG, Colditz GA, Clarke CA. Increasing burden of melanoma in the United States. J Invest Derm. 8 January 2009 doi:10.1038/jid.2008.423.
4. Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents & Young Adults. SEER AYA Monograph Pages 53-57. 2007.
5. Melanoma of the Skin, Cancer Fact Sheets, National Cancer Institute, SEER database, 2007..
6. World Health Organization, Solar ultraviolet radiation: Global burden of disease from solar ultraviolet radiation. Environmental Burden of Disease Series, N.13. 2006.
7. Bickers DR, Lim HW, Margolis D et al. The burden of skin diseases: 2004 a joint project of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2006; 55: 490-500.
8. Berg A. Screening for skin cancer. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2007.

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