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Skin cancer stats

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.

  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer; about one million of the cases diagnosed annually are basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year1, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
  • Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two major forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.
  • In 2004, the total direct cost associated with the treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers was more than $1 billion.
  • About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • Up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun.

UV Exposure

Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of a person's lifetime sun exposure is not acquired before age 18; only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.8.

Lifetime UV Exposure in the United States

AgesAverage Accumulated Exposure*
1-18 22.73 percent
19-40 46.53 percent
41-59 73.7 percent
60-78 100 percent

*Based on a 78-year lifespan