A recent press release by the CDC reports increasing melanoma rates in the United Sates. From 1982 to 2011, melanoma rates tripled from slightly over 11 occurrences per 100,000 people to almost 23 per 100,000. Over 90 percent of these cases occur as a result of overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma skin cancers are the most fatal, with over 65,000 cases occurring in 2011 and 9,000 cases resulting in death. Treating these cases currently costs $457 million. A CDC Vital Signs report warns that without preventative action, melanoma cancers could increase to an estimated 112,000 cases in 2030, which would cost a projected $1.6 billion.
In order to avoid this increase in prevalence and expense, the report recommends community action that combines “education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes to increase skin protection for children and adults.” Such programming could ultimately save $2.7 billion and prevent 230,000 cases of melanoma by 2030.
Specifically, the report suggests that communities and policymakers increase shade in public spaces such as parks and playgrounds, encourage sun protection methods such as sunscreen and hats in those public spaces and limit access to indoor tanning for minors. Additionally it promotes increased awareness that “tanned skin is damaged skin” and recommends avoiding indoor tanning or activity in the sun during midday hours.
Currently the federal government, through the Affordable Care Act, requires most health care coverage to include preventative counseling to 10-24 year olds with fair skin that would place them at increased risk for skin cancer. Additionally, the government regulates indoor tanning equipment by prohibiting use by minors and requiring that marketing materials include statements about the associated risks.
For more information on skin cancer prevention, click here.