Skin Cancer Cases on the Rise: A Global Health Concern

Recent studies highlight a global increase in skin cancer cases, emphasizing the urgent need for public awareness and preventive measures.

Skin Cancer Cases on the Rise: A Global Health Concern
Photo by Nataliya Melnychuk / Unsplash

Recent data and studies have highlighted a concerning trend: skin cancer cases are on the rise globally, with significant increases observed in both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. This surge underscores the urgent need for enhanced public awareness and preventive measures.

Rising Incidence Rates

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. In the United States alone, skin cancer is the most common cancer, with more than 9,500 people diagnosed daily. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

In the UK, the incidence of melanoma skin cancer has reached unprecedented levels. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) data reveals that new melanoma cases rose by nearly a third between 2007-09 and 2017-19, with a particularly striking 57% increase among those over 80. This trend is attributed to increased UV exposure and the ageing population.

Causes and Risk Factors

The primary cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources like tanning beds. UV radiation can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations and the development of cancerous cells. People with fair skin, light-coloured eyes, and a history of sunburns are at higher risk.

Other contributing factors include genetic predisposition, a large number of moles, and a family history of skin cancer. Additionally, certain chemicals and immunosuppressive medications can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Preventive Measures

Experts emphasize the importance of preventive measures to combat the rising incidence of skin cancer.

Key recommendations include:

  • Avoiding Sun Exposure: Avoid the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and seek shade whenever possible.
  • Protective Clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen Use: Apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
  • Avoiding Tanning Beds: Refrain from using indoor tanning devices, which can significantly increase the risk of melanoma.
  • Regular Skin Checks: Perform monthly self-examinations and see a dermatologist annually for professional skin exams.

Advances in Treatment and Survival Rates

Despite the rising incidence, early detection and treatment advancements have led to improved survival rates. For instance, the five-year survival rate for melanoma detected early is 99%. New treatments, including mRNA-based cancer vaccines, are undergoing clinical trials and show promise in targeting melanoma cells.


The increasing rates of skin cancer highlight the critical need for public education on sun safety and regular skin examinations. Individuals can significantly reduce their chances of developing skin cancer by adopting preventive measures and staying informed about the risks.

As research advances, there is hope for even more effective treatments and improved outcomes for those affected by this prevalent disease.