By Amanda Sangster - May 24, 2022
According to data compiled by the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, an estimated 3.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2022. Skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and is among the few preventable cancers. However, incidence rates continue to rise.
“The rates are only going up,” says Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology. “If nothing changes, by 2040, melanoma will be the second most common major form of cancer in the U.S. and the first among males.”
The majority of those diagnosed will develop basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma while the other 99,780 will develop melanoma, the most dangerous and deadly type of skin cancer. While melanoma accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers in the U.S., it is the deadliest form of the disease. The reports estimate that 7,650 deaths from melanoma will occur in 2022 and over 65% will be men.
Sondak says these estimates of expected skin cancers are accurate. “Many Americans will be diagnosed with more than one skin cancer at the same time, meaning the true incidence of skin cancer in the U.S. is even higher – probably as high as all other forms of cancer combined.”
Proper skin care and sun protection should be an important component for everyone, regardless of gender. However, men are more susceptible due to behavior factors. Simply put, men don’t protect themselves and pay attention to their skin care as much as women do. They are also less likely to follow up with medical providers when noticing areas of skin that may be concerning.
"Many Americans will be diagnosed with more than one skin cancer at the same time, meaning the true incidence of skin cancer in the U.S. is even higher – probably as high as all other forms of cancer combined."- Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology
The risk of being diagnosed with melanoma increases with age, but it’s also one of the most common cancers in adolescents and young adults. Anyone can develop skin cancer, regardless of skin color or age.
Sondak says that everyone in the family should use proper skin protection before outdoor activities. This doesn’t just involve sunscreens. In fact, Sondak considers sunscreens as the third line of defense, with the first line being avoiding direct sun exposure during peak hours of UV intensity, generally 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer months. The second line of defense is wearing sun-protective clothing: long sleeves and long pants, as well as a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
To help reduce the rising rates of skin cancer from overexposure to UV rays, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day,” a holiday that encourages sun safety awareness and reminds everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.
Sun Safety Tips
- Exposure – Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when UV is its most intense.
- Clothing – Protect your skin from sun damage with clothing, including a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt and long pants made of a tightly woven fabric. Swimming? Opt for a T-shirt or rash guard while in the water.
- Hat – Protect your head, ears, face and neck with the shade of a wide-brimmed hat constructed of a tightly woven fabric like canvas (UV rays can penetrate a straw hat). If you wear a baseball cap, use sunscreen on exposed areas like your face, neck and ears.
- Sunglasses – Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Well-designed sunglasses can help prevent cataracts and protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of sun exposure.
- Shade – Seek shade underneath a shelter, umbrella or tree, especially during the midday hours. Use extra caution near surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays, like water and sand.
- Sunscreen – 30 minutes before going outside, always apply a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Don’t forget your ears, the tops of your feet and the scalp. Reapply every two hours.