Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in Five Americans will develop skin cancer duting the course of their lives. Despite that prevalence, skin cancer remains the proverbial elephant in the room, a disease men and women are aware of but prefer not to think about.

Thanks to a societal trend that prefers to avoid or ignore the subject of skin cancer. However, as the following facts and figures about skin cancer attest, skin cancer is a topic that cannot be ignored and one men, women and children alike need to learn about to better reduce their risk of experiencing  this largely preventable disease.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, men are more likely to develop non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer than women. In fact, the Natonal Cancer Institute notes the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over the age of 50.
  • The rate of skin cancers increases with age. However, skin cancers and specially melanomas can be found in younger people.
  • The five year overall survival rate for melanoma, which represents the percentage of patients who live at least five years after diagnosis is 91%. This includes patients who are disease free, in remission or undergoing continuing treatment.
  • The five year localized survival rate for melanoma is 98%. Localized cancer represents cancer that, at the time of diagnosis, has not spread to the other parts of the body.
  • The National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program notes that nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of non melanoma skin cancer.
  • Basal cell carcinoma, a slow growing and painless type of non melanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Roughly 2.8 million cases of BCC are diagnosed annually in the U.S. Though rarely fatal, BCC's can be unsightly if the cancer is allowed to grow.
  • According to the National Cancer Institute, between 40% to 50 % of Americans who live to age 65 will have melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancer at least once in their lifetime.
  • Roughly 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (or UV) radiation from the sun.
  • According  to the National Center for Chronic Prevention and Health Promotion, melanoma accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75% of skin cancer deaths.
  • The World Health Organization reports that 10 minutes in a tanning bed is equal to the skin cancer causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean  summer sun.
To learn more about skin cancer, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation at http://www.skincancer.org/

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