Melanoma Death Rates Expected to Continue to Increase

Although the CDC expects death rates for most cancers to decrease by 2020, melanoma is the exception and new cases are expected to cost $1.6 billion in 2030.

While death rates for many cancers—such as breast, cervix, colon, and prostate—are expected to decline from 2007 to 2020, melanoma is one of the exceptions, according to 2 new reports from the CDC.

The agency’s Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) calls for a 10% to 15% reduction in death rates between 2007 and 2020. During that time deaths are expected to increase among men (15%) and stabilize among women (less than 10%). However, the researchers do not expect to meet the HP2020 melanoma cancer death rates by 2020.

“Melanoma deaths are predicted to increase through 2020 because incidence rates and risk are predicted to continue to increase, and death rates and risk are predicted to fall short of the HP2020 target of a 10% reduction from 2007 to 2020,” the authors wrote in the report.

In a separate Vital Signs report, researchers noted that rates of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, have doubled between 1982 and 2011, increasing from 11.2 per 100,000 to 22.7 per 100,000. However, using comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20% of new melanoma cases between 2020 and 2030.

“If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs,” Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a statement.

In 2011 the annual cost of treating the 65,000 new melanoma cases was $457 million. Each year more than 9000 Americans die from this type of cancer. The cost of treating new cases is expected to triple in 2030 to $1.6 billion for the projected 112,000 new cases.

More than 90% of melanoma cases in the United States are caused by UV exposure. The CDC and HHS are addressing the increasing melanoma burden by calling attention to strategies to reduce UV exposure from the sun and indoor tanning.

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said. “Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Find some shade if you’re outside, especially in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are most intense, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.”