Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is mostly caused by UV exposure.

U.S. Skin Cancer Treatment Costs Soaring, CDC Reports

The costs rose between 2002 and 2011 five times faster than the cost of treating other types of cancers, according to the agency's new study.

A new CDC study published online Nov. 10 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that the costs associated with treating U.S. skin cancer cases rose five times faster than did the treatment costs for other types of cancer between 2002 and 2011. The average annual cost for skin cancer treatment increased from $3.6 billion during 2002-2006 to $8.1 billion during 2007-2011, an increase of 126 percent. The average annual cost for treatment of all other cancers increased by 25 percent during the same period.

The average annual number of adults treated for skin cancer also rose, from 3.4 million during 2002-2006 to 4.9 million during 2007-2011, a 44 percent increase.

CDC reports skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and calls it "a major and growing public health problem." Prior to this study, little was known prior about the costs of treating it, according to the agency.

"The findings raise the alarm that not only is skin cancer a growing problem in the United States, but the costs for treating it are skyrocketing relative to other cancers," said the report's lead author, Gery Guy, Ph.D., of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. "This also underscores the importance of skin cancer prevention efforts."

Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. CDC recommends taking these actions to protect against UV exposure that could lead to skin cancer:

  • 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.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin to learn more about skin cancer prevention.

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