Apr 182005
 
Authors: Megan Buettgenbach

2005 Skin Cancer Fact Sheet

* Over half of all new cancers are skin cancers.

* More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.*

* About 79 percent of the new skin cancer cases will be basal cell carcinoma, 15 percent are squamous cell carcinoma and 5 percent are invasive melanoma. The other 1 percent represents rare types of skin cancer, such as Merkel cell carcinoma, adnexal carcinoma(s), dermatofibroma fibrosarcoma protuberans, etc.

* Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have a better than 95 percent cure rate if detected and treated early.

* An estimated 10,590 people will die of skin cancer this year, 7,770 from melanoma and 2,820 from other skin cancers.*

* There will be about 105,750 new cases of melanoma in 2005 – 46,170 in situ (noninvasive) and 59,580 invasive (33,580 men and 26,000 women).* This is a 10 percent increase in new cases of melanoma from 2004. In 2005, at current rates one in 34 Americans have a lifetime risk of developing melanoma and one in 62 Americans have a lifetime risk of developing invasive melanoma.

* One American dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 68 minutes). In 2005, 7,770 deaths will be attributed to melanoma – 4,910 men and 2,860 women.* Older Caucasian males have the highest mortality rates from melanoma.

* The incidence of melanoma more than tripled among Caucasians between 1980 and 2003.

* More than 73 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.

* Melanoma is more common than any non-skin cancer among women between 25 and 29 years old.

* Invasive melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in men and the sixth most common cancer in women.* **

* One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.

* Five or more sunburns double your risk of developing skin cancer. *Source: American Cancer Society's 2005 Facts & Figures

**Excluding basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which together are the most common cancers in both sexes

Springtime is here and rising temperatures can lead to an increase in the amount of skin showing, but because Colorado has one of the highest rates of skin cancer, students should think twice before they go outdoors.

"Colorado is one of the highest in number of skin cancer states," said Dr. Miho Scott of Cancer Center of the Rockies. "Florida, Arizona and Colorado are some of the highest in Melanoma cancer."

There are several reasons Colorado has a high rate of skin cancer.

"It's more prevalent due to the fact that we are higher, have more sunny days and we have a decreasing ozone layer, which has been protecting us," said Claire Smith, a nurse practioner at Harthshorn Health Service Center.

In fact, Colorado has 300 sunny days a year, Smith said.

Skin cancer comes in three different forms:

* Basal cell cancer

* Squamous cell cancer

* Melanoma cancer

Basal and Squamous cell cancer are types that can be cut out of the skin, but melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, Scott said.

Skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun, but there are still ways to enjoy the warm weather if people take a few precautions.

Scott recommends people use sunscreen when they are exposed to the sun.

"I've seen guys wearing baseball caps, but that doesn't cover their nose and ears, and I've seen a lot of cancer in those areas," Scott said.

Scott also suggested wearing long-sleeve shirts and mentioned there are some out on the market that have Sun Protection Factor (SPF) protection in it.

"The harmful effects of the sun is increased by wind," Smith said. "And we have a lot of wind (in Colorado)."

While it is good to wear sunscreen and protective clothing, students may not realize that most skin damage happens during younger years.

"The majority of skin damage that people receive happens before the age of 18," said Nicole Reasoner, manager of Bronze Tanz.

Reasoner recommended using a self-tanning lotion or spray tan as an alternative to baking in the sun.

Skin cancer is not just a summertime problem, because even during skiing individuals can catch the sun's reflection off the snow.

"When you go skiing, the snow reflects I think about 80 percent of Ultra Violet rays," Reasoner said. "That's why they recommend to wear enough SPF of 15 at least."

Some people believe that if they tan and do not burn, they are safe from the possibility of skin cancer.

"I don't put on sun screen," said Geri Hall, freshman business major. "I don't burn, just tan. I probably should to prevent skin cancer. It's pretty preventable by putting on sunscreen, so I wonder why more people don't do that."

Scott said it is true that people with darker skin are not as much at risk as those with fair skin.

However, she still suggested using an SPF of at least 15; because it is still possible to get skin cancer if one does not burn.

"People with darker skin think they don't have to worry about (getting burnt) because it doesn't show up, but they do," Smith said.

Some fair skinned people can get Dysplastic Nevi Syndrome, which means that their body has a lot of moles.

Scott said these people should watch their moles for any change of color, shape or if they start bleeding. Skin moles can happen anywhere on the body, even on areas that you cannot see.

People who have a family history of melanoma cancer also have an increased chance of getting cancer.

"A little bit of sun is not bad, but still wear some kind of SPF," Scott said. "Too much sun makes your skin age too."

However, some people will continue to spend time in the sun no matter what.

"I love the sun," said Katie Winkler, a freshman open option major.

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