8 Little-Known Facts About Skin Cancer

Statistics highlight the need for greater prevention

Skin cancer is on the rise with more young people being diagnosed every day. What most people don't realize is that skin cancer is highly avoidable. In fact, it is the most preventable types of cancer today. All it takes is a few simple changes to your daily routine to keep you sun-safe whatever your lifestyle or location.

If you need more reasons why today is the day to grab the SPF, here are some little-known facts that may convince you otherwise: 

Skin Cancer Accounts for 50 Percent of All Cancers

Doctor checking melanoma. Credit: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among men and women. The problem is that many people do not get themselves routinely checked with a dermatologist.

Changes in moles or blemishes can be the first sign of a developing malignancy but are often missed until the disease is well progressed. Early detection is always the key to treatment success.

Nearly 90 Percent of Skin Cancers Is Caused by Everyday UV Exposure

FDA Announces Stricter Guidelines For Sun Screens. Credit: Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun are responsible for most non-melanoma skin cancers. Exposure can result from being outdoors, using tanning beds, and simply sitting by in your car or by a window.

And we're not just talking direct exposure, Reflected light on a sandy beach can add your daily UV burden, as can walking outside unprotected on a cloudy day.

Over a Million Cases Will Be Diagnosed This Year

Doctor examining woman with melanoma. Credit: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, a number which is expected to rise in the face of changing global climates.

These include less invasive types of cancer which respond well to treatment and more aggressive forms which can be potentially life-threatening.

One Person Dies from Melanoma Every Hour

Dermatologist examining patients moles. Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Each year, around 8,000 Americans die of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. On top of that, nearly 3,000 people will die of non-melanoma skin cancers. The sad thing is that most of these deaths could have been avoided by following a few simple rules of prevention.

Caucasians Have 1-In-3 Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer. Credit: Bartek Tomczyk / Getty Images

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. The risk is higher for whites: one in three. 

Just One Bad Sunburn Can Increase Your Risk of Melanoma

Wart on the face child. Credit: Bartek Tomczyk / Getty Images

Protecting children against UV exposure is essential for healthy skin into adulthood. A single blistering sunburn during one's adolescence can significantly increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life, Five or more sunburns can lead to an 80 percent greater risk of developing melanoma before the age of 65.


More Men Are Diagnosed with Skin Cancer Than Women

Female dermatologist examining a male patient. Credit: Susan Chiang / Getty Images

Despite perceptions, men are far more likely to develop skin cancer than women. In fact, skin cancer is more common in men over 50 than even prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. This, by far, makes skin cancer the most common type of cancer among older men


African Americans, Asians, and Latinos Are More Likely to Die from the Disease

Melanoma Exam at the Washington Cancer Institute. Credit: The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

While the risk of developing melanoma is relatively low for African Americans, Asians, and Latinos, it is far more deadly when compared to white populations. In some cases, this is due to genetic factors we can't control; at others, late diagnosis and/or treatment are to blame.

Don't assume that only the fair-skinned guy with red hair and freckles is at risk. Everyone exposed to UV radiation is at risk of cancer, irrespective of ethnicity, age, or skin color.