AAD: Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Incidence in U.S. Rising

Data reveal that treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers nearly doubled from 1994 to 2006

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States appears to be increasing, as individuals have failed to incorporate sun protection behaviors despite proven scientific evidence that sun exposure is a preventable risk factor, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, held from Feb. 4 to 8 in New Orleans.

Brett M. Coldiron, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati, discussed new statistics that point to an increase in non-melanoma skin cancer and reasons why young people are at an elevated risk of developing this type of cancer.

A recent analysis of Medicare claims data revealed that treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers in the United States nearly doubled between 1994 and 2006, with more than 3.5 million new non-melanoma skin cancers estimated in 2006. Despite exposure to ultraviolet light being proven to be a preventable risk factor for skin cancer, attitudes regarding tanning remain unchanged, Coldiron said in his presentation. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that individuals use a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 on all exposed skin; wear protective clothing; seek shade when appropriate; use extra caution around water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun; avoid tanning beds; and get vitamin D safely, through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.

"As dermatologists, we know that it is hard to change behavior, even in the face of proven scientific evidence," Coldiron said in a statement. "Attitudes about tanning are no different, as studies have shown that even though people know that overexposure to ultraviolet light can lead to skin cancer, they still tan. We need young people to realize that tanning for cosmetic reasons now will ultimately negatively affect their appearance later and even increase their risk for skin cancer."

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