The Skin Cancer Epidemic
Each year, over 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in over 2 million Americans, making skin cancer the most common type of cancer by far. While most skin cancer cases do not result in mortality, they can lead to severe disfigurement and debilitation. In addition, more aggressive forms of skin cancer such as Melanoma and certain types of Squamous Cell Carcinoma can metastasize and result in death. In fact, one American dies of Melanoma almost every hour. The most concerning aspect of Melanoma is its alarming rate of increase among young adults and adolescents, particularly among young Caucasian women. Aside from breast cancer, women under the age of 39 have a higher probability of developing Melanoma than any other form of cancer. Melanoma is also the most common form of cancer for young adults of either gender from age 25 to 29 and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults from age 15 to 29. The widespread use of tanning beds is thought to contribute to these staggering statistics.
Fortunately, Melanoma is essentially curable if it is detected early, with a 99% survival rate if it is removed before it invades the lower layer of skin compared to a 15% survival rate when there is advanced disease. Therefore, early detection through periodic visits to the Dermatologist is becoming increasingly important, particularly among the younger population in Columbus, where there is a robust tanning industry. Add to this, the fact that up to 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will develop either a Squamous Cell Carcinoma or a Basal Cell Carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancers that are less deadly but are disfiguring and debilitating nonetheless), and one can easily see why there is an epidemic brewing.