Home / Learn About Tanning / Is There A Skin Cancer Epidemic?

Is There A Skin Cancer Epidemic?


There have been many reports about the “growing incidence” of skin cancer in the U.S. The media and those groups that are not in favor of any form of UV exposure cite statistics and new studies to support their case. To provide balance to the discussion, both sides should be considered.

Anti-UV advocates will point to the numbers from the National Cancer Statistics SEER report. There, it is estimated that 76,250 men and women (44,250 men and 32,000 women) will be diagnosed with and 9,180 men and women will die of melanoma of the skin in 2012. Many will also point out that melanoma is affecting young girls and that the popularity of sunbeds is largely responsible; however, this must be put into perspective.

Any incidence or fatality from melanoma is unfortunate; but based on the current population of the US, 0.00024% of us will be diagnosed with melanoma. Even much less, 0.000029% will perish from it. Another reality is that melanoma incidence and fatalities are mostly older males with a median age of 61.

So, is the incidence of melanoma and skin cancer really increasing? Consider that practically every major U.S. city and many large cities worldwide with large populations of fair-skinned people offer free skin cancer screenings. Undoubtedly, it’s good that doctors are finding more skin cancer, finding it earlier than ever, and treating it. Their methods of detection, new technology and new procedures have certainly helped. However, seldom if ever, does the news media point this out.

Many reports suggest that skin cancer is the leading cancer type for females 20-29 years old, but its latency period can take decades. Dr. Bruce Thiers, dermatologist and Chair of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery states … “It is thought that the incubation period for basal cell carcinoma is probably 10, 15, or 20 years and stated differently what this means is that when we see skin cancer develop, the patient is probably paying the price of their indiscretion with the sun one or two decades previously”.

Recent media releases now admit these facts which add balance to the discussion on UV exposure.

Surgery Rates Rising for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Use of a particular procedure may be driving the trend

Surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States increased substantially from 2001 to 2006, mainly due to the increased use of a specific surgical procedure, a new study suggests.

The world’s largest systematic population-based skin cancer screening program shows incidence of melanoma increase.

An organized program of population-based total body skin examination screening for skin cancer has been shown to significantly reduce melanoma mortality. Using the incidence of melanoma in Schleswig-Holstein during the 2 years prior to the SCREEN project as a baseline, the incidence of melanoma during the SCREEN project increased by 16% in men and by 38% in women.