Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the U.S., 2002-2006 and 2007-2011

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Feb;48(2):183-187. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.08.036. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Background: Skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S., is a major public health problem. The incidence of nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancer is increasing; however, little is known about the economic burden of treatment.

Purpose: To examine trends in the treated prevalence and treatment costs of nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers.

Methods: This study used data on adults from the 2002-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey full-year consolidated files and information from corresponding medical conditions and medical event files to estimate the treated prevalence and treatment cost of nonmelanoma skin cancer, melanoma skin cancer, and all other cancer sites. Analyses were conducted in January 2014.

Results: The average annual number of adults treated for skin cancer increased from 3.4 million in 2002-2006 to 4.9 million in 2007-2011 (p<0.001). During this period, the average annual total cost for skin cancer increased from $3.6 billion to $8.1 billion (p=0.001), representing an increase of 126.2%, while the average annual total cost for all other cancers increased by 25.1%. During 2007-2011, nearly 5 million adults were treated for skin cancer annually, with average treatment costs of $8.1 billion each year.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that the health and economic burden of skin cancer treatment is substantial and increasing. Such findings highlight the importance of skin cancer prevention efforts, which may result in future savings to the healthcare system.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / economics
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Melanoma / economics
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skin Neoplasms / economics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult