The Main Stream

Mar 17, 2010 9:39 AM

Skin cancers outnumber other cancers combined

TUCSON - New studies say non-melanoma skin cancer is now affecting more people than all other cancers combined.

The studies, which are published in the March issue of the Archives of Dermatology, also say non-melanoma skin cancers have struck five times as many people as breast or prostate cancer.

Researchers say the findings call for a revised health strategy that treats skin cancer as a chronic disease requiring not just a one-time treatment, but ongoing monitoring of patients, prevention and education.

Despite the findings, skin cancer was the last thing on Tammie Spradlin's mind as she sat in the sun and watched Tuesday's spring training game at Tucson Electric Park.

Spradlin says, "I worry about lung cancer, breast cancer more so than I do skin cancer. I don't wear sun screen and I love the sun."

Across the aisle, a family of baseball fans slathered on sunscreen as soon as they sat down.

Dan McNeil held up a bottle of Sport sunscreen and said, "We always leave home with a little Sport protection. Since we spend a lot of time in the sun, it's a must."

Angie Doty added, "I'm an aesthetician so I am very aware of skin cancer and I worry about it a lot."

So does Arizona Cancer Center Dermatologist Clara Curiel.

Curiel says, "We had believed that we had 1 million new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States. What this study is telling us is that it's way above that number. We are now in the 2.5 million {new cases a year}."

Curiel, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Arizona, says many people don't understand skin cancer.

She says, "This is not just a problem of elderly people. In Southern Arizona we have patients in their 20's."

Curiel agrees with the studies' conclusion that skin cancer is an under recognized epidemic that needs a new health strategy.

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