Posted on June 3, 2015

U.S. Melanoma Rate Double What It Was 30 Years Ago

Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2015

The incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has doubled in the U.S. in the last 30 years and is on track to remain high unless Americans take more precautions to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday.

CDC researchers tallied a total of 65,647 new cases of melanoma in 2011, according to a Vital Signs study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. After adjusting for age, that worked out to 19.7 new cases per 100,000 Americans, the study said.

Non-Latino whites had the highest incidence of melanoma by far, with 24.6 cases for every 100,000 people. At the other end of the spectrum were African Americans, with 1 case per 100,000 people, along with Asians and Pacific Islanders, who had 1.3 cases per 100,000 people. Latinos also had a low incidence, with 4.1 diagnoses for every 100,000 people.

Through age 49, women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with melanoma, the report said. This is partially due to the popularity of indoor tanning among younger white women–nearly one-third of white women between 16 and 25 visit a tanning parlor at least once a year, according to a 2013 study in JAMA Internal Medicine.


A total of 9,128 Americans died as a result of melanoma in 2011, the researchers found. That resulted in an age-adjusted mortality rate of 2.7 deaths per 100,000 Americans. Non-Latino whites accounted for 95 percent of these deaths, and men accounted for two-thirds of them, according to the report.


{snip} In the Australian state of Victoria, a comprehensive skin-cancer-prevention program called SunSmart prevented more than 9,000 cancers and more than 1,000 deaths over a 15-year period, [the study authors] noted. If a similar program were adopted in the U.S., it could prevent an estimated 230,000 cases of melanoma between 2020 and 2030.