UTAH (ABC4) – Skin cancer, or melanoma, is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and data shows that Utah has the highest skin cancer rate among the entire nation.
Each year, about 4.3 million adults are treated for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas at a cost of around $4.8 billion, according to the CDC.
In Utah in 2019, data shows there were 11,888 new cases of cancer, which is 407 cases per 100,000 people.
The same year, there were 3,288 people who died of cancer, which is 118 cases per 100,000 people.
When looking at melanomas of the skin, there were 1,250 new cases in 2019, which is 43 per 100,000 people, with a total of 76 who died of skin cancer.
Men were shown to have higher rates than women, and among ethnicities, Caucasian people were shown to have the highest rates.
The number of skin cancer cases has risen 8% in the last four years, with cooler states like Utah and Vermont showing skin cancer rates nearly three times higher than warmer states like Texas and New Mexico.
Utah in particular, however, has consistently ranked as one of the highest states in terms of melanoma incidence and mortality nationwide, which may be attributed to its geographic features such as high elevation and desert landscape, increasing the risk of developing melanoma.
There are, of course, other risk factors for developing melanoma besides just geography.
According to the American Cancer Society, excessive exposure to sunlight and UV radiation during work and recreation, as well as a history of sunburns early in life significantly increases one’s risk for melanoma.
Risk for melanoma also increases with the severity of the sunburn. Lifetime sun exposure, even if sunburn does not occur, is another risk factor.
Additionally, the reason men are more likely to get skin cancer than women is because men are reportedly more likely to work outside and less likely to wear sunscreen.
In 2019, nearly 600,000 people died of cancer in the U.S., second only to heart disease.