Why Do Skin Cancer Rates Vary by Age Group?
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Prevention and early detection are the best ways to overcome this disease, no matter your age.
New Cases of Skin Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), nearly 100,000 new cases of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—are expected to be diagnosed in 2019. It’s important to note that other forms of skin cancer, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are actually more common, but because nonmelanoma skin cancers are not required to be reported to cancer registries, it is difficult to estimate the true number of new cases. The most recent study of these occurrences estimated that 5.4 million cases were diagnosed among 3.3 million people in 2012.
Skin Cancer by Age Groups
Melanoma diagnoses have been on the rise for the past 30 years, but trends differ by age group and gender. Here are some of the reasons for this as hypothesized by the ACS:
- Underage 50, skin cancer is more prevalent in women than in men. This could be due to young women sunbathing and visiting tanning booths more frequently than men.
- By age 65, skin cancer rates in men double, and by age 80, they triple. This is caused by the increased likelihood for men of retirement age to engage in more outdoor recreational activities.
- From 2006 to 2015, the incidence rate of skin cancer increased by 3 percent among both women and men in the 50-and-older age group, but it remained stable among those under age 50. This might be because, as knowledge of skin cancer risk grows, the younger population is starting to take more effective precautions against it.
- From 2007 to 2016, the mortality rate for melanoma declined by about 2 percent per year in adults age 50 and up. The rate decreased by about 4 percent per year in the under-50 age group. Greater attention to the importance of early detection could be the reason for lower mortality rates among younger people.
How to Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer
The probability of developing melanoma increases with age because sun damage accumulates over the years. Your skin doesn’t reset each summer—every sunburn and even every tan you get raises your risk as to the year’s pass. While family history is a factor, especially for melanoma, a majority of skin cancer cases could be avoided if people practiced better sun protection. Here are some tips to help prevent skin cancer:
- Apply sunscreen every day.
- Wear protective clothing and sunglasses.
- Seek the shade.
- Avoid sunbathing and tanning booths.
- Perform self-evaluations once a month and visit a dermatologist once a year.
Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology offers skin cancer screenings and treatments to help keep you healthy and well. If it’s been more than a year since your last visit, please contact us at 801-266-8841 to schedule a consultation with one of our Salt Lake City dermatologists.