Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer that occurs in the United States. Over one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. In any given year, there are more cases of this cancer diagnosed than there are of colon, lung, prostate and breast cancers combined.
One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. The most common type is basal cell carcinoma, which is rarely fatal, but which can be very disfiguring.
Sqamous cell carcinoma is the second most commonly-seen type of skin cancer. This type results in roughly 2500 deaths each year and more than 250,000 are diagnosed every year.
Basal and squamous cell types of carcinoma are the major two forms of skin cancer seen that are non-melanoma. About forty to fifty percent of people in America who live past age 65 will have one of these types of skin cancer at least once.
In the year 2004, the total cost that was attributed to treating non-melanoma skin cancers was higher than one billion dollars.
Nearly ninety percent of the non-melanoma types of skin cancer are associated with overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. Nearly ninety percent of the aging effects seen on human skin are caused by sun exposure.
Most people used to believe that about eighty percent of a person’s exposure to the sun came before the age of eighteen, but this is not true. At age 19, a person has only had about twenty-three percent of their lifetime sun exposure.
Although many of the more common cancers are not seen as often as they used to be, melanoma incidents are still rising, at a faster rate than any of the other seven most common cancers. About 62,480 melanomas are diagnosed in a calendar year, and almost 8240 will result in death.
Melanoma is found in roughly three percent of all skin cancer cases, but it causes higher than 75 percent of deaths due to skin cancer. The incidence of mortality among those with melanoma increased by almost thirty-three percent from 1975 – 1990, but since then it has stayed fairly stable.
The survival rate of people with melanoma increased from almost fifty percent between 1950 and 1954, and it improved 92% between 1996 and 2003. Still, over twenty Americans die every day from skin cancer, usually of the melanoma type. One person will die from melanoma nearly every hour.
The rate of survival of melanoma patients whose disease was found early, before the tumor broke through the skin, is almost one hundred percent. This rate falls to a dismal fifteen percent for those who have the advanced stages of the disease.