A Better East Texas: Skin Cancer

2008 Skin Cancer Facts

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.3
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.26
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer; about one million of the cases diagnosed annually are BCCs.29 BCCs are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year1, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.2
  • BCC and SCC are the two major forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.7
  • In 2004, the total direct cost associated with the treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers was more than $1 billion.14
  • About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.30
  • Up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun.16
  • Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of a person's lifetime sun exposure is not acquired before age 18; only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.8


  • The incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than that of almost any other cancer.21
  • Approximately 62,480 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,420 resulting in death.3

Incidence                    Deaths

Men: 34,950                  5,400

Women: 27,350             3,020

  • Melanoma accounts for about three percent of skin cancer cases,31 but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.32
  • Melanoma mortality more than doubled from 1950-2004.21
  • More than 20 Americans die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma. One person dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 62 minutes). 3
  • The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early (before it has reached the lymph nodes) is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.3
  • Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer for males and seventh most common for females. 3
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15-29 years old.18
  • About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. 30
  • One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.19
  • One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.4
  • A person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any age.5

From Skincancerprevention.org

There are over one million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year, outnumbering all other cancers combined.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention facilitates skin cancer awareness, prevention, and early detection through education and promotion of sun safe behaviors. Together we will reduce the mortality and suffering from this devastating disease.


  • 1. Do not burn: Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds causes skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
  • 2. Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 which provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • 3. Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
  • 4. Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun's rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • 5. Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.

Other websites:

aad.org (American Academy of Dermatology)