Daily Message

Jul. 31, 2014: Surgeon General Offers Education on Reducing Skin Cancer Rates

Nearly five million people in the United States are treated for skin cancer every year, at an average annual cost of $8.1 billion, according to a new Call to Action released by the U.S. Surgeon General.

A key message in today’s report is that although people with lighter skin are at higher risk, anyone can get skin cancer – and it can be disfiguring, even deadly. Over the last three decades, the number of Americans who have had skin cancer is estimated to be higher than the number for all other cancers combined.

According to research cited in the Call to Action, more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer, about 6,000 of which are melanomas, are estimated to be related to indoor tanning in the U.S. each year. Currently, as many as 44 states plus the District of Columbia have some type of law or regulation related to indoor tanning, but nearly one out of every three white women aged 16 to 25 years engages in indoor tanning each year.

The Call to Action helps to educate consumers by providing everyday steps they can take to lead healthy and active lives while being outdoors. These steps include wearing protective gear, such as a hat, sunglasses and other protective clothing, and seeking shade along with the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher to protect any exposed skin, especially during midday hours.

The report calls on businesses, healthcare, education, government and nonprofit sectors, as well as families and individuals, to do more. Examples include communities providing shade in outdoor settings, healthcare providers counseling patients on the importance of using sun protection and educational institutions discouraging indoor tanning.