The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed on Tuesday that the incidence of melanoma in the U.S. has doubled over a 30 year period from 1982 to 2011.
The CDC likewise said that melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer, is on track to remain prevalent unless Americans make the necessary precaution of protecting themselves from ultraviolet radiation.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the U.S and while melanoma only makes up about 2 percent of skin cancer cases, it is the deadliest of its kind.
Over 90 percent of melanoma cancers are attributed to skin cell damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation notably from the sun and use of tanning beds. Melanoma kills more than 9,000 per year. In 2011, there were over 65,000 new cases of melanoma cancer.
In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published on June 2, CDC researchers looked at more than 65,600 new cases of melanoma in 2011 and found that melanoma affects 19.7 per 100,000 Americans and that the fatality rate was 2.7 per 100,000. The incidence rate was projected to rise for white Americans through 2019.
The cost of treating newly diagnosed melanomas per year was likewise estimated to rise to $1.6 billion in 2030 from $457 million in 2011.
Researchers, however, said that implementing a comprehensive skin cancer prevention program could avert about 230,000 cases of melanoma and save $2.7 billion in treatment costs from 2020 to 2030.
"If additional prevention efforts are not undertaken, the number of melanoma cases is projected to increase over the next 15 years, with accompanying increases in health care costs. Much of this morbidity, mortality, and health care cost can be prevented," the report read.
CDC director Tom Frieden said that people can protect themselves from the sun by using hat and clothing that cover the skin. Experts also advise against indoor tanning.
"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," Frieden advised.
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control director Lisa Richardson said that compared with the rates of other cancers that are now declining, the rate of people who get melanoma continues to rise each year. She said that taking actions now can lead to the prevention of hundreds of thousands of skin cancer cases and save billions of dollar in medical costs.
Ed Uthman | Flickr