Melanoma Skin Cancer Rates are on the Rise

If rates of melanoma continue to increase at the current pace, 112,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2030, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body if not caught early. Melanoma can be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or sources such as tanning beds and sun lamps.

The CDC’s findings are reported in the June 2, 2015 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, as well as the June issue of Vital Signs.

Community prevention efforts are needed

The CDC report is calling for more community prevention efforts. Successful programs combine education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes to protect children and adults from skin cancer. The report says effective community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 21,000 cases of melanoma per year and save $250 million per year beginning in 2020 through 2030.

The Vital Signs report lists recommendations for communities from the Community Guide for Preventive Services. Communities can:

  • Increase shade on public spaces, including playgrounds and pools
  • Post signs in recreational areas reminding people to wear hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses
  • Encourage businesses, childcare centers, schools, and colleges to educate employees and students about sun safety and skin protection
  • Restrict the availability and use of indoor tanning by anyone under age 18

Take these steps to protect your skin

  • Cover up: When you are out in the sun, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30: Be sure to reapply at least every 2 hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.
  • Seek shade: Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.

People with lighter skin are at higher risk, but people of any skin color can get skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Vital Signs: Melanoma Incidence and Mortality Trends and Projections – United States, 1982–2030. Published June 2, 2015 in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. First author, Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.


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