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Saving Your Skin: Cancer Facts You Need to Know

We all know sun exposure can cause cancer. But most people don’t know just how common and, more importantly, how dangerous skin cancer really is. Let’s explore how common and devastating skin cancer is on human health.

The Alarming Reality

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. More skin cancers are diagnosed than breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers combined.

1 in 5

Number of Americans who will develop skin cancer in their lifetime (1)

One American dies of melanoma every 57 minutes. (1)


Estimated number of deaths from melanoma in 2014 (1)


Percentage of melanoma cases attributed to UV radiation exposure from the sun (1)

$2.36 billion

Cost of melanoma treatment in 2010 alone (1)


There are three common types of skin cancer found in the U.S. population. (1, 2)


Melanoma starts in the pigment cells, or melanocytes, in the skin. It can occur on any skin surface, but occurs most commonly on the head or neck in men and on the lower legs and back in women.

76,100 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in 2014.

Basal cell

The basal layer of skin is the deepest, bottom layer of a person’s epidermis. Basal cell cancer usually occurs in areas that have been in the sun, most commonly on the face. Basal cell is the most common form of skin cancer among light-skinned people.

2.8 million people are diagnosed annually with basal cell skin cancer.

Squamous cell

Squamous cell cancer generally spreads to other, deeper parts of the body and is considered a fairly dangerous form of skin cancer. In dark-skinned people, it is the most common type and usually occurs in the legs or feet.

Incidences of squamous cell skin cancer have increased 200% over the past 30 years.

Sun Exposure is (Mostly) the Source

Tanning and sunburns are the No. 1 cause of skin cancer in the U.S. (1)

UV tanning machines that were once classified by the FDA as class I devices (low to moderate risk) were reclassified starting in September 2014 as class II (moderate to high risk). (1)

More than 170,000

Number of non-melanoma skin cancer cases in the U.S. associated with indoor tanning (1)


Percentage of adults who report at least one sunburn in the past 12 months (1)

30 million

Number of people in the U.S. who use tanning beds annually. As many as 3 million of these people are teens. (1)

The risk for melanoma increases 75% for people who use tanning beds before the age of 35. (1)

Evading Disaster

Avoiding the sun altogether isn’t good for you; the sun gives us natural vitamin D and can boost endorphins and dopamine levels. But being smarter about sun exposure could save your life.

Prevention tips: (1)

1. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Staying in the shade during this time is probably your healthiest option.

2. Try not to burn. Getting five or more sunburns in your life doubles your risk of melanoma. If your skin starts to redden, itch, hurt or blister, seek shelter.

3. Don’t use tanning booths. Just don’t do it. Many tanning salons use lights that emit 12 times the UV radiation of the sun.

4. Use SPF 15 or higher every day. Buying a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 isn’t hard these days.

5. Quickly check for any changes in your skin before hopping into the shower or when changing clothes. If you notice a new mole or dark spot, you’d better get it checked.

Skin Cancer