What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the skin. Skin cancer most often develops on skin exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation (rays), but skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly to treat. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
UV rays are a major cause of all skin cancers. Too much exposure to UV rays from either the sun, or from indoor tanning devices like beds, booths, and lamps penetrates the skin, causing the skin to make more melanin, which turns skin dark or red. Any change in skin color after UV exposure (whether it is a tan or a burn) is a sign of injury, not health.
Up to 90% of melanomas are estimated to be caused by UV exposure. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is on the rise in New York State. UV exposure can also cause cataracts and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma).
Even if a sunburn or tan fades, the damage caused by that tan or burn does not, and the effects cannot be reversed. Most of a person’s lifetime skin damage occurs before the age of 18 years. Skin damage adds up with each sunburn or tan and may one day result in skin cancer.
Did You Know…?
- One in five Americans will get skin cancer in his or her lifetime. 
- Melanoma is among the top five cancers for adults aged 20 to 34. 
- UV radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and sun lamps, are a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
- Indoor tanning before age 30 increases melanoma risk by 75%. 
- 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. 
- The estimated five-year melanoma survival rate for Black patients is only 71 percent, versus 93 percent for white patients. 
- Black and Hispanic populations perceive their skin cancer risk to be low and are less likely to use sun protection strategies. 
Skin Cancer in the Pandemic
- Health and Safety experts are promoting more outdoor activities
- NYS parks had one million more visitors in 2020 than in 2019
- Many people started new activities in the spring/summer 2020 and continue to do so
- With increased outdoor activities, this increases exposure to the sun which increases risk for skin cancer
- Sun protection is more important than ever