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3.4 million Americans could be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2022

Sunscreen, long-sleeve shirts and hats help to protect people from the possibility of skin cancer, which may affect 3.4 million people this year. (iStock)
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Roughly 3.4 million U.S. residents will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2022, according to estimates compiled by the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

The vast majority (3.3 million) will have basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, while the others (99,780 people) will have melanoma — the less common but more dangerous type of skin cancer. Cancer experts predict that 7,650 residents will die of melanoma this year.

Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, is killing fewer people, likely due to new treatments

Overall, about 20 percent of Americans develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime — men more often than women, but women generally at a younger age than men. Anyone can develop skin cancer, regardless of skin color.

Skin cancer ranks as the most common cancer in the United States, but it also is considered the most preventable. Most of the time, skin cancer develops because of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, either from the sun or from an artificial source such as a sun lamp or tanning bed. UV rays damage skin cells, causing abnormal cells to form, rapidly divide and spread.

Many types of skin cancer are preventable. Here are good methods to protect yourself.

Treatment varies by a skin cancer’s type and stage, but common methods include surgery to shave or cut away the cancerous tissue or freezing (known as cryosurgery) to destroy the tissue.

Preventing the development of skin cancer starts by protecting the skin from UV rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, that means avoiding indoor tanning and, when outdoors, seeking shade whenever possible, wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, and applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing.

All exposure to UV rays — not just sunburn and blistering but tanning, too — can lead to skin cancer.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.

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