Non-melanoma skin cancer rate increasing?

March 18, 2010

The rate of non-melanoma skin cancer appears to be on the rise, according to two reports released this week.

Because non-melanoma skin cancer typically is not reported to national cancer registries, researchers for one study developed a mathematical model to estimate the prevalence of the disease, a study abstract stated. The model estimated approximately 13 million white, non-Hispanic Americans had at least one non-melanoma skin cancer in 2007. In addition, it estimated that about 1 out of every 5 70-year-olds had a non-melanoma skin cancer -- with most having more than one.

A related study analyzed Medicare databases to estimate incidence and treatment rates of non-melanoma skin cancer in 2006. According to a study abstract, the number of procedures to treat skin cancer among Medicare recipients has increased 76.9 percent since 1992. Between 2002 and 2006, treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer increased 16 percent.

"There is an epidemic of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States, as illustrated by the comparison with previously published estimates," study authors wrote.

Both studies were published in the March issue of the Archives of Dermatology.