Skin cancer rates are rising, but deaths are declining. Our team of analysts looked at skin cancer (melanoma) rates nationwide going back nearly a decade. We found that while the number of skin cancer cases is up 5%, deaths are down 6%.
- Utah and Vermont have the highest rates of skin cancer, while Texas and Alaska have the lowest.
- Skin cancer rates rose by as much as 21% in some states.
- Overall, 27,000 men died from skin cancer over the last four years, compared to 14,000 women.
- The nationwide average is 2.3 skin cancer deaths per 100,000.
- In 2022, June had the highest UV Index Score, while December had the lowest.
- Hawaii had the highest average UV Index Score in 2022, at 8.8, making it the only state rated “very high” risk. Likewise, Alaska had the lowest score in 2022, at 1.5, and was the only state with a “low” risk.
- People in their 40s have nearly 10 times more cases of skin cancer than those in their 20s.
Skin cancer rates nationwide fit a particular pattern. Colder, northern states have a much higher rate of skin cancer than warmer, southern states. We looked at the latest CDC cancer statistics over two four-year periods: 2013 to 2017 and 2015 to 2019. We found that cooler states like Utah and Vermont have skin cancer rates nearly three times higher than warmer states like Texas and New Mexico. This is most likely because people who live in sunnier states better protect themselves from the sun by applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and avoiding severe sunburns.
|State||Skin cancer cases per 100k||% change in cases 2013-2017||Melanoma-related deaths|
While skin cancer rates are up, the number of skin cancer-related deaths has declined over the last four years. Between 2013 and 2017, there were 44,000 skin cancer-related deaths, compared to 41,300 between 2015 and 2019. Wyoming, West Virginia and Idaho have the highest rates of skin cancer deaths, at around three per 100,000. The nationwide average is 2.3 deaths per 100,000.
UV Index Scores and sun exposure risks
The EPA defines UV Index as a daily forecast of the expected intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Extended periods of sun exposure increase the risk of skin cancer.
To find which states pose the highest risk of skin cancer due to sun exposure, our team analyzed daily UV exposure data and 2022 UV Index Score averages. We found Hawaii to be the top state for sun exposure risk. Hawaii had the highest average UV Index Score in 2022, at 8.8, making it the only state rated “very high” risk. In 2022, only one state, Alaska, received a “low” rating for its UV Index Score, at 1.5.
|State||Daily UV exposure||2022 average UV Index Score||Risk level|
According to a recent study, 82% of Americans don’t wear sunscreen daily in the summer, even though sun damage can occur year-round. People are most at risk during the month of June. June 2022 had an average UV Index Score of 9.0, giving it a “very high” risk rating. Although people are generally at risk of sun exposure during the summer, shoulder seasons such as early spring and late fall also bring “high” risk ratings.
Why older generations are at higher risk of melanoma
As we age, we become less capable of fighting off skin diseases. Our skin becomes thinner, making it easier for UV rays to penetrate more deeply. Case in point: those in their 40s have nearly 10 times more cases of skin cancer than people half their age. Adults between the ages of 80 and 84 have the highest rate of skin cancer overall, at 113.2 per 100,000.
Men are more likely to get skin cancer
Men have a much higher rate of skin cancer than women. Over the last four years, the skin cancer rate for men has been 30.2 per 100,000, compared to 20.2 per 100,000 for women. This disparity is because men are more likely to work outside and less likely to wear sunscreen.
We found that the disparity between men’s and women’s skin cancer rates is highest in Arizona, Hawaii and Delaware, and lowest in North Dakota, Maine and Alaska. Overall, 27,000 men died from skin cancer over the last four years, compared to 14,000 women.
|State||Male case rate per 100K||Female case rate per 100K||Male deaths||Female deaths|
Does insurance cover skin cancer treatment?
Many, but not all, health insurance plans require a referral from your primary caregiver to visit a dermatologist. Nearly all health plans have an online directory that lists all the doctors and other providers in their network. Usually, you can search for a doctor by type. If you have an HMO plan, you likely need a referral. A PPO plan is case by case, so you'll need to contact your insurance company.
For most insurance plans to cover dermatological care, it must be deemed a “medical dermatology issue”. Skin cancer treatment is considered medically necessary, so your insurance should cover most dermatologist appointments and procedures.
We analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find states with the highest rates of new cancers in the United States overall, as well as by age and gender. Figures are based on the rate of new melanoma cases in each state. The rate of new melanoma cases is a per-capita figure per 100,000 people from 2013 to 2017 and 2015 to 2019. States with the highest rankings are states with the highest numbers of new melanoma cases per 100,000 people over a four-year period.
The UV Index Table consists of data sourced from the CDC Environmental Data Explorer, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To calculate the average UV Index Score for each state, the daily UV Index from the 15th date of each month during the year 2022 was averaged. As for the overall monthly UV Index, each state’s UV Index for a month was averaged to find the national average UV Index per month.
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