• Thursday, 24 January 2019

Skin Cancer Rates In Massachusetts Among Highest In Nation

BOSTON: Diagnoses of skin cancers are higher in Massachusetts than the national average and are even higher on Cape Cod, which has the third highest rate of diagnosis in the nation. Skin cancers are diagnosed at a rate of 4.3 percent nationally.

In Massachusetts, the rate of diagnosis is 5 percent - tied for sixth highest in the country. In the Barnstable-Yarmouth Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) the rate of diagnosis is 8.6 percent - double the national average. The data comes from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's (BCBSA) Health of America Report and is for 2016 (see charts below).

These numbers are obviously alarming, said Dr. Bruce Nash, chief physician executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. We're often ranked as one of the healthiest states in the nation, but we clearly have more work to do to educate residents about the risk of skin cancer, especially on the Cape. We encourage our members to get outside, be active and enjoy the nice weather, but we also want to stress the importance of sun protection, including UV-blocking sunglasses, hats with a brim, and broad spectrum sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Experts also recommend sunscreens that protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays and do not contain oxybenzene, which has been linked to hormone disruption and allergic skin reactions.

Nationwide, the prevalence of the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma, increased 7 percent over a four-year span. Findings show that the rate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield members living with melanoma more than doubled for men ages 55 through 64. Women 54 and younger have a higher prevalence of diagnosed melanoma than men.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States: Nearly 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. By taking the skin cancer diagnosis rate of 4.3 percent of Blue Cross members found in the study and extrapolating it to 216 million privately insured people counted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the BCBSA estimates that nine million privately insured people in the U.S. have skin cancer.