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The 7 Top States for the Worst Kind of Skin Cancer

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One quick way to get consumers’ attention in the summer may be to give them a copy of a federal government chart showing what kinds of moles really ought to be seen by a doctor.

Doctors will find new cases of skin cancer this year in about 3.3 million people, according to the American Cancer Society. About 96,480 of those cases will involve the most aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Melanoma will kill about 7,230 people. Other forms of skin cancer may be less aggressive than melanoma, but they are also much more common, and they will kill about 4,420 people.

(Related: 5 Fastest-Growing Killers)

Skin cancer can also affect your sales of life insurance and other medically underwritten products, by making some otherwise healthy applicants difficult or impossible to get through underwriting. Financial Inc. has posted a number of real-life underwriting examples on its website, along with a detailed discussion of the factors life insurance underwriters consider when looking at applications from melanoma survivors. Site managers show, for example, that a 48-year-old who had melanoma diagnosed and removed four years earlier qualified for coverage at a relatively low price. Another 55-year-old applicant, who was treated at age 53 for melanoma that had spread to three lymph nodes, and who has not seen a doctor for 18 months, was declined.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes state-by-state National Center Institute melanoma statistics available through its U.S. Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations site.

Financial professionals  can use the CDC site to generate tables and maps. Financial professionals need to check with their own compliance people for details about what they can put in their social media posts, blog articles, email newsletters and print newsletters, but they can use the CDC visualization site melanoma tables and charts in client communication efforts without fear of copyright problems.

The latest state melanoma diagnosis rate statistics in the visualization system are from 2016. They show that the age-adjusted melanoma diagnosis rate ranged from 12.6 cases per 100,000 lives, in Texas, up to a high of more than 40 cases per 100,000 lives, in two states known for being health conscious. The median was about 24 new cases per 100,000 lives.

One frightening thought: Some of the states with lowest 2016 detection rates are sunny states that perform poorly on other population health indicators. In those states, the CDC melanoma detection rate rankings may be upside down: There, detection rates may be low because many people are failing to get doctors to look at their lopsided, rapidly growing moles. Texas, for example, has a low detection rate and also ranks low in terms of skin cancer deaths.

But Alaska has the second lowest melanoma detection rate, and the 11th worst skin cancer death rate, according to the CDC. That might be a sign that Alaska’s low detection rate is the result of a low screening rate, rather than a low skin cancer incidence rate.

To see which states had the highest melanoma detection rate in 2016, based on CDC data, see the data cards in the slideshow above.


A government site showing pictures of moles in urgent need of medical attention is available here.

A tool you can use to get, and format, copyright-free, government cancer data is available here.

— Read Fastest-Growing Killerson ThinkAdvisor.

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