Realize the Risk
12 Melanoma Statistics
The incidence of malignant melanoma is increasing at a rate greater than any other cancer in the United States. Half of all new cancers are skin cancers.
- Melanoma is far more dangerous than other skin cancers-it accounts for only 4% of skin cancers, but it causes about 80% of skin cancer deaths.
- Melanoma rates are more than 10 times higher in whites than in African Americans.
- Incidence of melanoma has increased 600% in the last fifteen years .
- In the year 2001, one in 71 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma. This risk is projected to rise to 1 in 50 by 2010.
- This year 55,100 Americans will develop a malignant melanoma; 7,910 will die.
- Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in women (excluding basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers).
- Melanoma is now the most frequent cancer in women in the U.S. aged 25-29.
- Six out of seven skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
- Fourteen percent of patients with metastatic melanoma survive for five years.
- About one in four persons who develop melanoma now is under the age of 40.
- Advanced melanoma spreads to internal organs and may result in death.
- One person each hour dies from melanoma. However, if detected in the early stages, melanoma can usually be treated successfully.
Information About Risk Factors
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is also our body’s first line of defense. Acting as our shield from the environment, the skin is repeatedly exposed to a variety of potential carcinogens. There are numerous factors which may increase your risk for developing a cancer of the skin. The strongest risk factors for melanoma are a family history of melanoma, multiple benign or atypical nevi, and a previous melanoma. Immunosuppression, sun sensitivity, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation are additional risk factors.
- Genetics: Individuals with fair complexions, blondes or redheads with blue eyes are at the greatest risk. Your risk is also increased if your parents, children, or siblings have had skin cancer.
- Sun Exposure: The amount of time spent in the sun is another major determinant. Unfortunately, much of this exposure occurs in our youth and may require years to express its carcinogenic potential.
- Immunosuppression: Suppression of the body’s immune system significantly increases skin cancer risk. This can result from immunosuppression therapy following organ transplants, chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, AIDS, immunosuppressive therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis and many other diseases.
- Lifestyle: Lifestyle choices which increase exposure to carcinogens can also contribute to cancer risk. The outdoor life, tanning beds, exotic vacations in high sun exposure environments, and the clothing fashions of today are certainly contributory.
- Lifespan: Due to the advances of medical science, the human life expectancy has increased from forty-two years in 1904, to close to eighty years today. As a result, it is not surprising that an increasing number of skin cancers are being seen throughout the world.