A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests skin cancer is not only a major public health problem in the United States, but a significant economic burden as well.
The study, published in the online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows the cost of treating the disease in the United States has increased five times faster than the cost of treating all other cancers.
The CDC study found that skin cancer treatment cost $3.6 billion during the five-year period spanning 2002-2006. Then, during 2007-2011, the average annual cost soared to $8.1 billion - a 126 percent increase.
The cost of treating all other cancers rose only 25 percent during the same period, according to the study. It did not determine why the cost of treating skin cancer has risen so much.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and its incidence seems to be on the rise, based on the study's findings. The CDC researchers found that the average annual number of adults treated for skin cancer increased from 3.4 million in 2002-2006 to 4.9 million in 2007-2011.
The most deadly form of skin cancer - melanoma - is most often caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Public health officials say the CDC's findings underscore the need for more skin cancer prevention. They urge you to:
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours;
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs;
- Wear a hat with a wide brim;
- Wear sunglasses that block both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays;
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection; and
- Avoid tanning salons.