Another troubling statistic… the number of people diagnosed with a non melanoma skin cancer is still going up, with an estimated 3.7 million cases in the U.S. during 2009 according to the latest figures from researchers who reported last year that 2 million Americans were treated for 3.5 million nonmelanoma (mainly basal cell or squamous cell) skin cancers.
These cancers can be treated easily if they’re found early, however, the highly entrenched view of tanning as healthy looking and beautiful has created a significant public health problem according to Brett M. Coldiron, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans, and recently rising rates have brought both attention and concern from the medical community.
The new findings, presented at the recent 69th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), showed that these procedures among Medicare patients went up an extra 2.4% from 2006 to 2007; 2.5% from 2007 to 2008 and an additional 1.6 in 2009.
The number of treatment procedures for nonmelanoma skin cancers is considered a good gauge of the actual number of cancers. This, according to the researchers, allows their work to provide the most accurate figures we’ve had thus far on skin cancers.
To arrive at their final estimate, Coldiron and his team used Medicare claims data to get the number of skin cancer removal procedures among Medicare recipients, and then calculated figures for the general population.
The earlier report, published in the Archives of Dermatology, found skin cancer removals increased about 4% a year from 1992 to 2006. If things continue on as they have been, Coldiron believes there will be a doubling of nonmelanoma skin cancers in the next 15 to 20 years.
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Skin Cancer Cases At 3.7 Million In U.S. And Rising – Are You At Risk..? Continued…
The cost, in terms of money alone, is huge. Diagnosis and treatment of each cancer costs over $2,000. This brings the total cost of the 3.7 million cases from 2009 to over $8.5 billion.
One of the most worrisome parts of the skin cancer problem is that the numbers are likely to continue to rise according to AAD President Ronald L. Moy, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles. The reason? There’s often a lag time of 20 years (or more) between sun damage and the manifestation of a skin cancer. That means, for many of us, the damage has already been done.
So what can we do to reduce our skin cancer risk now?
- Always use a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 on all exposed skin when going outside.
- Wear protective clothing (long sleeved shirt, pants, wide brimmed hat, sunglasses) when you are out in the sun.
- Try to get in the shade whenever you can, especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
- Be careful near reflective surfaces like water, snow and sand as this can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Avoid tanning beds as this type of light can cause not only skin cancer but also wrinkling. Self tanners are far better choices for a sun kissed look.
- Anything that changes, grows or bleeds on your skin should be checked by a dermatologist in case it’s non melanoma skin cancer or worse, a melanoma.