May is skin cancer awareness month: Did you know that Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in women ages 25 to 29?


I posted on Facebook the other day about my first sunny bike ride and the need to replenish my stores of small containers of sunscreen for my bike jersey pocket.

A friend commented that she thought cyclists were more aware of the sun and its risks than were runners. Many runners, she claimed, weren’t so good about sunscreen. There’s the thought that it gets in the way of sweating properly. I’m not sure if it’s right that cyclists are better about the sun than runners though it is true we are generally out there for longer. Most cyclists don’t ride during the dark either and so a long summer ride will include lots of sunshine.

I’ve had a friend in her 30s die from melanoma, it scares me, and I’m anxious to spread the word.

Here’s some tough facts:

About Melanoma in Canada: “In its late stages, the average life expectancy for melanoma is just six months, with a one-year survival rate of only 25 percent, making metastatic melanoma one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. An estimated 6,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and 1,050 will die from it. Melanoma is responsible for 70 percent of deaths associated with skin cancer.”

Here’s 10 Things You Should Know About Skin Cancer:

1. Almost 50% of all cancer cases are a type of skin cancer.

More men and women are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than any other type of cancer. Each year, over 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and nearly 5 million seek treatment for the disease.

2. UV rays cause almost 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer.

People encounter these potentially harmful rays outdoors in the sun, lying in tanning beds and even sitting next to a window or driving in the car on a sunny day. UV rays can damage the skin through chronic exposure and intermittent sunburns.

3. In the U.S., someone dies from melanoma every 57 minutes.

Melanoma, specifically, accounts for less than two percent of skin cancer cases, yet the majority of deaths caused by skin cancer are caused by melanoma.

4. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for men and the seventh most common for women.

More women are diagnosed with melanoma before age 50; however, by age 65, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than women.

5. Reports of skin cancer diagnoses are considered to be underreported.

Many cases go unreported because, if caught early enough, they can be appropriately treated by primary care physicians or dermatologists, and patients do not have to undergo full cancer treatment. Despite being required by law, many doctors may not be aware that they are required to report such cases.

6. Americans spend $8.1 billion on skin cancer treatment alone each year.

Americans spend approximately $4.8 billion for non-melanoma and $3.3 billion for melanoma annually.

7. Skin cancer treatment can cost each patient anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The cost of treatment largely varies and depends on the type and stage of the cancer as well as the depth and location of the affected areas. For example, the average cost of excising a small area affected by non-melanoma skin cancer in a physician’s office is approximately$500, but, if needed, chemotherapy may cost thousands of dollars a month. These costs do not include reconstructive surgery that some patients may opt for post-treatment.

8. Skin cancer affects all ethnicities.

Those with fair or lighter skin are more likely to be affected by skin cancer; however, those with darker skin may be at a greater risk because skin cancer is more likely to go undetected until advance stages.

9. Using a tanning bed before age 30 boosts melanoma risk by 75 percent.

The highest risk exists for people who use tanning beds before age 25. Their odds of developing squamous cell skin cancer is 50% higher than those who have never used indoor tanning before; similarly, their risk of developing basal cell skin cancer is 40% higher.

10. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers.

Minimizing exposure to sunlight and tanning beds can help you protect yourself from skin cancer and scheduling annual checkups with a dermatologist can be a good way to monitor suspicious-looking moles or diagnose skin cancer early. Performing self-examination can also be helpful. Consider keeping photographic records of certain areas that your doctor has asked you to monitor for future comparison. When detected early, skin cancer has more than a 95% cure rate.”


Here’ s three past posts about the sun and skin cancer:


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