Skin Cancer

Quick Facts About Skin Cancer

  • Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers.
  • The number of skin cancer patients is growing steadily.
  • Estimates of Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year range from 700,000 to one million.
  • Half of all Americans will experience skin cancer at least once before the age of 65.
  • The average age of patients diagnosed with skin cancer is dropping, from 50 to 40 years old.
  • Approximately 75 percent of damage to your skin from the sun happens by the time you are 20 years old.
  • More than 90 percent of all skin cancer cases are due to overexposure to sunlight.
  • Skin cancer is believed to result from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.
  • Nearly 90 percent of skin cancers are preventable, and if detected early, are highly curable.
  • There are two types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. More than 80 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
  • In the United States, the number of new cases of melanoma (a type of malignant skin cancer) has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
  • Florida has the second highest rate of melanoma cases in the nation. The top four states are (1) California, (2) Florida, (3) Texas and (4) New York.
  • Genetics are considered one of the greatest known risk factors for skin cancer, including a genetic predisposition for melanoma and bearing numerous moles.

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late: Learn How to Spot Skin Cancer

American Academy of Dermatology teaches potentially life-saving behavior in recognition of Melanoma Monday®

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 1, 2014) – It is estimated that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour.

In recognition of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® in May and Melanoma Monday®, observed on May 5, the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) is encouraging the public to learn how to SPOT Skin Cancer™. The campaign aims to save lives by emphasizing the importance of early detection.

"When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable," said board-certified dermatologist, Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy. "Despite this, many people don't know how to be their own detective when it comes to skin cancer, including what to look for on their skin or when they should see a dermatologist.”

To increase people’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, the Academy recommends everyone learn the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:

  • A – is for Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • B – is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C – is for Color that varies from one area to another.
  • D – is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • E – is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

“Although skin cancer is more common among people with light or fair skin, everyone is at risk of getting this life-threatening disease,” said Dr. Coldiron. “SPOT Skin Cancer™ encourages people to invest in their health and spot skin cancer early, when it is most treatable. If you see anything on your skin that is changing, itching or bleeding, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”

To further learn how to spot skin cancer, visit the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer™ website – – for valuable information and resources on skin cancer prevention and detection, including:

  • A How to SPOT Skin Cancer™ infographic containing tips on how to perform a skin cancer self-exam
  • The SPOT Skin Cancer™ Quiz to test how much you know – or don’t know – about skin cancer
  • How to find a free skin cancer screening in your area: nearly 500 screenings are available nationwide in May
  • A How to Select a Sunscreen infographic with tips for choosing a sunscreen that reduces your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging

SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the Academy’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer. The Academy designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday® as a way to raise awareness of melanoma and encourage early detection through self-exams.

The public can help raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer by using the hashtag #SPOTskincancer when sharing Academy resources on social media and encouraging friends and family members to take advantage of the Academy’s free skin cancer screenings in their area. Individuals who have been affected by skin cancer can share their personal stories on and provide support and inspiration for others fighting skin cancer, as well as communicate the importance of prevention and early detection.