A new study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield reveals skin cancer cases in South Carolina are noticeably higher for coastal cities than the rest of the state.
The study examined claims data from all commercially-insured Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans nationwide.
“We are not the worst,” Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Medical Officer Matthew Bartels said of South Carolina.
The states with the highest reports of skin cancer cases are Florida, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Vermont. However, South Carolina did follow some national trends in where the higher rates are located.
“The coastal communities had a higher prevalence of skin cancer compared to areas like Columbia, Sumter and Florence,” Bartels said. “The overall average for South Carolina as a population is 4.4 percent.”
Myrtle Beach (6.1 percent)
Charleston (6 percent)
Columbia (4.3 percent)
Sumter (3.7 percent)
Florence (3.6 percent)
Greenville, Spartanburg, Rock Hill and Beaufort did not make the list. Aiken is classified with Augusta at 4.8%. Click here to see the study results.
“The people in the coastal regions and on the eastern part of the U.S. do seem to have higher rates of skin cancer,” Bartels said. “So it’s important we be aware of it and we take the right precautions.”
He noted the normal advice of avoiding the sun at peak hours, limiting exposure to direct sunlight and always using sunscreen when outdoors.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
“The importance of educating the public about the dangers of tanning beds cannot be underestimated,” Bartels said. “There’s a significant increase in the incidents of melanoma in people that have used tanning beds under the age of 35 especially. Tanning beds really do increase your risk of getting skin cancer later on.”
Skin cancer is the most common cancer type in the United States. The study notes melanoma rates among BCBS patients have risen seven percent since 2014.