Some Skin Cancers Saw Spike

Nonmelanoma skin cancer rates increased in US adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) As awareness about the dangers of sun exposure and skin cancer rises, the hope is that skin cancer rates will decrease. New evidence, however, suggests that rates may not be on the decline.

A new study found evidence that rates of certain types of skin cancers increased between 2006 and 2012.

According to the authors of this study, led by Howard W. Rogers, MD, PhD, of Advanced Dermatology in Norwich, CT, nonmelanoma skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US.

As the name implies, nonmelanoma skin cancer, or NMSC, involves skin cancers that are not of the melanoma type. This can include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Dr. Rogers and team wanted to get an up-to-date picture of NMSC rates in the US. To do so, they used US government data from a number of sources, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Physicians Claims databases and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS).

These researchers identified skin cancer procedures that people on Medicare received from 2006 to 2012. NAMCS data was used to estimate office visit rates related to skin cancer. This data was used to estimate overall rates of skin cancer among people in the US.

The number of Medicare users who received a skin cancer procedure increased 13 percent between 2006 and 2012 — from 2,048,517 to 2,321,058, Dr. Rogers and team found. When looking at specifically NMSC-related procedures, this rate increased 14 percent.

Based on their findings, Dr. Rogers and team estimated that across the entire US, the number of NMSC cases increased from around 4 million cases in 2006 to 5.4 million cases in 2012.

Some people with these cancers were likely to have more than one case of NMSC. Because of this, Dr. Rogers and team estimated that the overall number of people in the US treated for NMSC also increased over the course of this study — from around 2.5 million to 3.3 million.

"We hope that [this research] provides further evidence and motivation to support skin cancer prevention and treatment efforts and that it underscores the need for a national system of sentinel registries to better track the incidence of the most common, and largely preventable, cancer in the United States," Dr. Rogers and team wrote.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stressed that avoiding overexposure to the sun is an important way to prevent skin cancer. The CDC recommends a number of steps, including staying in the shade during midday, wearing hats that shade the face, ears, and neck and using sunscreen.

This study was published online April 30 in JAMA Dermatology.

One study author disclosed financial ties in recent years with a number of pharmaceutical groups, such as Merck and Palatin Technologies. The authors disclosed no other funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
April 28, 2015
Last Updated:
May 5, 2015