CDC Vital Signs Reports: Rates of New Melanomas – Deadly Skin Cancers – Have Doubled Over Last Three Decades

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Without community skin cancer prevention efforts, melanoma rates will continue to climb

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Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise.

Melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030, according to this month’s Vital Signs report.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. More than 90 percent of melanoma cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. Melanoma is responsible for more than 9,000 skin cancer deaths each year. In 2011, more than 65,000 melanoma cancers were diagnosed.

•Melanoma rates increased from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011.
•The report notes that without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030.
•The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases is projected to nearly triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.
•By 2030, effective community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 230,000 melanoma cancers and save $2.7 billion dollars in treatment costs.

Communities can increase shade on playgrounds, at public pools, and other public spaces, promote sun protection in recreational areas, encourage employers, childcare centers, schools, and colleges to educate about sun safety and skin protection, and restrict the availability and use of indoor tanning by minors. Everyone is encouraged to protect their skin with protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen, and seek shade outdoors.

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “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.”

Vital Signs is a report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, and food safety.

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