Non Melanoma Skin Cancer Increasing
Another troubling statistic… the number of people diagnosed with a non melanoma skin cancer is still going up, with just under 4 million cases being diagnosed in America. During 2009 according to the latest figures from researchers who reported last year that 2 million people in America were treated for 3.5 million nonmelanoma (mainly basal cell or squamous cell) skin cancers.
These cancers can be treated easily if they’re found early, however, the highly entrenched view of tanning as healthy looking and beautiful has created a significant public health problem.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans, and recently rising rates have brought both attention and concern from the medical community.
The new findings showed that cancer treatments among Medicare patients went up an extra 2.4% between 2006 to 2007; 2.5% from 2007 to 2008, plus an extra 1.6 in 2009.
The number of treatments for nonmelanoma skin cancers is considered a good gauge of the total number of cancers. This, according to the researchers, allows their work to provide truest figures we’ve had thus far on this particular type of cancer.
To arrive at their final estimate the researchers analysed Medicare claims to get the total number of skin cancer treatments among Medicare patients, and then calculated figures for the general population.
An earlier report found cancer removals increased about 4% a year between 1992 to 2006. If things continue on as they have been it’s thought nonmelanoma cancers of the skin will double in the next couple of decades.
The cost, in terms of money alone, is huge. Diagnosing and treating individual skin cancers costs over $2,000. This brings the total cost for the reported cases from 2009 to over $8.5 billion.
One of the most worrisome parts of this cancer problem is that the numbers are likely to continue to rise. The reason? There’s often a time lag of at least 20 years between damage by the sun and the manifestation of a cancerous growth. That means, for many of us, the skin damage has already been done.
So what can we do to reduce our risk now?
– Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 when going outside.
– Wear protective clothing (a shirt with long sleeves, pants, wide brimmed hat, sunglasses) when you are out in the sun.
– Try to get in the shade whenever you can, especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
– Be careful near reflective surfaces like water, sand and snow as this can up your risk of sunburn.
– Stay away from tanning beds as this type of light can cause not only skin cancer but also wrinkling. Self tanners are far better choices for a sun kissed look.
– Anything that changes, grows or bleeds on your skin should be checked by a dermatologist in case it’s non melanoma skin cancer or worse, a melanoma.