Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics
What You Need to Know
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
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- In the U.S., more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. More than two people die of the disease every hour.1,2, 9
- More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.1
- More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.2
- At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.3
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.4
- The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.5
Nonmelanoma skin cancer
- The diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers in the U.S. increased by 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.6
- About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.7
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 3.6 million cases of BCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.8,1
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 1.8 million cases of SCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.8,1
- The latest figures suggest that more than 15,000 people die of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in the U.S. each year9 — more than twice as many as from melanoma.
- More than 5,400 people worldwide die of nonmelanoma skin cancer every month.27
- Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.10
- Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent.11
- Incidence rates of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, increased by 95 percent from 2000 to 2013.40
- It’s estimated that the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2021 will increase by 5.8 percent. 2
- The number of melanoma deaths is expected to increase by 4.8 percent in 2021. 2
- An estimated 207,390 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021. Of those, 106,110 cases will be in situ (noninvasive), confined to the epidermis (the top layer of skin), and 101,280 cases will be invasive, penetrating the epidermis into the skin’s second layer (the dermis). Of the invasive cases, 62,260 will be men and 43,850 will be women.2
- In the past decade (2011 – 2021), the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 44 percent.2
- An estimated 7,180 people will die of melanoma in 2021. Of those, 4,600 will be men and 2,580 will be women.2
- The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.12
- Compared with stage I melanoma patients treated within 30 days of being biopsied, those treated 30 to 59 days after biopsy have a 5 percent higher risk of dying from the disease, and those treated more than 119 days after biopsy have a 41 percent higher risk.13
- Across all stages of melanoma, the average five-year survival rate in the U.S. is 93 percent. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 66 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 27 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.2
- Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.14
- On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns,15 but just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.39
- Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.16
- Melanoma accounts for 6 percent of new cancer cases in men, and 5 percent of new cancer cases in women. 2
- Men age 49 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer.2
- From ages 15 to 39, men are 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than women in the same age group.17
- Women age 49 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other cancer except breast and thyroid cancers.2
- From age 50 on, significantly more men develop melanoma than women. The majority of people who develop melanoma are white men over age 55. But until age 49, significantly more non-Hispanic white women develop melanoma than white men (one in 156 women versus one in 230 men). Overall, one in 27 white men and one in 40 white women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.2
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.18
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of agents that are cancer-causing to humans. Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes and solar UV radiation.19
- Ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices were reclassified by the FDA from Class I (low risk) to Class II (moderate to high risk) devices as of September 2, 2014.20
- Indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation in amounts 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity.41
- Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia prohibit people younger than 18 from using indoor tanning devices: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Maryland. Oregon and Washington prohibit those under age 18 from using indoor tanning devices unless a prescription is provided.21
- Brazil and Australia have banned indoor tanning altogether. Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18.22
- The cost of direct medical care for skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning is $343.1 million annually in the U.S.23
- More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas and 6,200 melanomas.24
- More people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.24
- Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 83 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma43 and a 29 percent increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.24
- Any history of indoor tanning increases the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40 by 69 percent.25
- Women who have ever tanned indoors are six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in their 20s than those who have never tanned indoors. At all ages, the more women tan indoors, the higher their risk of developing melanoma.26
- One study observing 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 found that 61 of them (97 percent) had used tanning beds.26
- People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.28
- Indoor tanning among U.S. high school students decreased by 53 percent between 2009 and 2015.29
- An estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun.30
- People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.31
- Sun damage is cumulative. Only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.32
|Ages||Average Accumulated Sun Exposure*|
|*Based on a 78-year life span|
- The estimated five-year melanoma survival rate for Black people is only 67 percent, versus 92 percent for whites.2
- Skin cancer represents approximately 2 to 4 percent of all cancers in Asians.33
- Skin cancer represents 4 to 5 percent of all cancers in Hispanics.38
- Skin cancer represents 1 to 2 percent of all cancers in Black people.3
- Melanomas in Black people, Asians and native Hawaiians most often occur on nonexposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60 to 75 percent of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.33
- In nonwhites, the plantar portion of the foot is often the most common site of skin cancer, being involved in 30 to 40 percent of cases.38
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in Black people.33
- Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more prevalent among Hispanic and Black people than non-Hispanic white people; 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients and 26 percent of Hispanic patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced-stage melanoma, versus 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.34
- People of color have higher percentages of acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM, melanoma of the palms, soles and nailbeds) than Caucasians, whereas superficial spreading melanoma is the most frequent subtype in Caucasians and Hispanics.38
- Melanoma in children and adolescents accounts for 1 to 4 percent of all melanomas and 3 percent of pediatric cancers. 44
- Between 2005 and 2015, the melanoma incidence in 10 to 29-year-olds dropped about 4 percent per year among males and 4.5 percent per year among females. 42
- The treatment of childhood melanoma is often delayed due to misdiagnosis of pigmented lesions, which occurs up to 40 percent of the time.36
- Rogers HW, Weinstock MA, Feldman SR, Coldiron BM. Incidence estimate of nonmelanoma skin cancer (keratinocyte carcinomas) in the US population, 2012. JAMA Dermatol 2015; 151(10):1081-1086.
- Cancer Facts and Figures 2021. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2021/cancer-facts-and-figures-2021.pdf. Accessed January 13, 2021.
- Stern, RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol 2010; 146(3):279-282.
- The Lewin Group, Inc. The Burden of Skin Diseases 2005. Prepared for the Society for Investigative Dermatology, Cleveland, OH, and the American Academy of Dermatology Assn., Washington, DC, 2005.
- Guy GP, Machlin SR, Ekwueme DU, Yabroff KR. Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the U.S., 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. Am J Prev Med 2015; 48(2):183-187. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.08.036.
- Mohan SV, Chang AL. Advanced basal cell carcinoma: epidemiology and therapeutic innovations. Curr Dermatol Rep 2014; 3(1):40-45. doi:10.1007/s13671-014-0069-y.
- Koh HK, Geller AC, Miller DR, et al. Prevention and early detection strategies for melanoma and skin cancer: Current status. Arch Dermatol 1996; 132(4):436-442.
- Our New Approach to a Challenging Skin Cancer Statistic. The Skin Cancer Foundation. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/our-new-approach-to-a-challenging-skin-cancer-statistic/
- Mansouri B, Housewright C. The treatment of actinic keratoses—the rule rather than the exception. J Am Acad Dermatol 2017; 153(11):1200. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3395.
- Lindelöf B, Sigurgeirsson B, Gäbel H, et al. Incidence of skin cancer in 5356 patients following organ transplantation. Br J Dermatol 2000; 143(3):513-9.
- Green A, Williams G, Neale R, et al. Daily sunscreen application and betacarotene supplementation in prevention of basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas of the skin: a randomized controlled trial. The Lancet 1999; 354(9180):723-729.
- Parkin DM, Mesher D, Sasieni P. Cancers attributable to solar (ultraviolet) radiation exposure in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011; 105:S66-S69.
- Conic RZ, Cabrera CI, Khorana AA, Gastman BR. Determination of the impact of melanoma surgical timing on survival using the National Cancer Database. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018; 78(1):40-46.e7. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2017.08.039.
- Cymerman RM, Shao Y, Wang K, et al. De novo versus nevus-associated melanomas: Differences in associations with prognostic indicators and survival. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016 May 27; 108(10). doi:10.1093/jnci/djw121.
- Pfahlberg A, Kölmel KF, Gefeller O. Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma. Br J Dermatol 2001; 144:3:471-475.
- Green AC, Williams GM, Logan V, Strutton GM. Reduced melanoma after regular sunscreen use: randomized trial follow-up. J Clin Oncol 2011; 29(3):257-263.
- Fisher DE, Geller AC. Disproportionate burden of melanoma mortality in young US men. JAMA Dermatol 2013; 149(8): 903. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.20134437.
- Ultraviolet-radiation-related exposures. Broad-spectrum UVR, pp. 1-5. NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2014. Report on Carcinogens, Thirteenth Edition. Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/ultravioletradiationrelatedexposures.pdf. Accessed January 26, 2018.
- El Ghissassi F, Baan R, Straif K, et al. Special report: policy. A review of human carcinogens—part D: radiation. The Lancet 2009; 10(8):751-752. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70213-X.
- National Cancer Institute. U.S. indoor tanning rates are dropping, but still high. https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2015/indoor-tanning. Accessed January 31, 2018.
- Indoor tanning restrictions for minors — a state-by-state comparison. NCSL, National Conference of State Legislatures. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/indoor-tanning-restrictions.aspx. Accessed January 29, 2018.
- Skin cancer: indoor tanning is not safe. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/indoor_tanning.htm. Last updated January 5, 2016, last reviewed January 22, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2018.
- Waters HR, Adamson A. The health and economic implications of the use of tanning devices. J Cancer Policy 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcpo.2016.12.003.
- Wehner MR, Chren MM, Nameth D, et al. International prevalence of indoor tanning: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Dermatol 2014; 150(4):390-400. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6896.
- Ferrucci LM, Cartmel B, Molinaro AM, et al. Indoor tanning and risk of early-onset basal cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 2012 Oct; 67(4):552-62. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2011.11.940.
- Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Weinstock MA, et al. Association between indoor tanning and melanoma in younger men and women. JAMA Dermatol 2016; 152(3): 268–275. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2938
- Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration. Global, regional and national cancer incidence, mortality, years of life lost, years lived with disability, and disability-adjusted life-years for 29 cancer groups, 1990 to 2017. JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(12):1749-1768. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.2996.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group. The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: a systematic review. Int J Canc 2006; 120:1116-1122.
- Guy GP Jr, Berkowitz Z, Everett Jones S, et al. Prevalence of indoor tanning and association with sunburn among youth in the United States. JAMA Dermatol 2017; 153(5):387-390. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.6273.
- Taylor CR, Stern RS, Leyden JJ, Gilchrest BA. Photoaging/photodamage and photoprotection. J Am Acad Dermatol 1990; 22:1-15.
- Hughes MCB, Williams GM, Baker P, Green AC. Sunscreen and prevention of skin aging: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2013; 158(11):781-790.
- Godar DE, Urbach F, Gasparro FP, van der Leun JC. UV doses of young adults. Photochem Photobiol 2003; 77(4):453-7.
- Gloster HM, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006; 55:741-60.
- Hu S, Soza-Vento RM, Parker DF, et al. Comparison of stage at diagnosis of melanoma among Hispanic, black, and white patients in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Arch Dermatol 2006; 142(6):704-8.
- Dean PH, Bucevska M, Strahlendorf C, Verchere C. Pediatric melanoma: a 35-year population-based review. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open 2017; 5(3): e1252.
- Ferrari A, Bono A, Baldi M, et al. Does melanoma behave differently in younger children than in adults? A retrospective study of 33 cases of childhood melanoma from a single institution. Pediatrics 2005; 115(3):649-57.
- Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2011.html. Accessed January 13, 2021.
- Bradford, Porcia T. Skin Cancer in Skin of Color. Dermatol Nurs 2009 Jul-Aug; 21(4): 170-178.
- Lew RA, Sober AJ, Cook N, et al. Sun exposure habits in patients with cutaneous melanoma: a case study. J Dermatol Surg Onc 1983; 12:981-6.
- Paulson KG, Park SY, Vandeven NA, et al. Merkel cell carcinoma: Current US incidence and projected increases based on changing demographics. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018; 78:457-463.
- Le Clair MZ, Cockburn MG. Tanning bed use and melanoma: Establishing risk and improving prevention interventions. Prev Med Rep. 2016; 3:139–144. Published 2016 Jan 14. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.11.016
- Paulson KG, Gupta D, Kim TS, et al. Age-specific incidence of melanoma in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. 2020; 156(1):57–64. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.3353
- Lergenmuller S, Ghiasvand R, Robsahm TE, et al. Association of lifetime Indoor tanning and subsequent risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. JAMA Dermatol. 2019; 155(12):1350–1357. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.2681
- Han D, Zager JS, Han G, et al. The unique clinical characteristics of melanoma diagnosed in children. Ann Surg Oncol. 2012;19(12):3888–3895. doi:10.1245/s10434-012-2554-5
Last updated: January 13, 2021