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Skin cancer rates higher in developed countries

Skin Cancer Susceptibility Index by

Canada ranked in the top 20 out of 62 countries on the Skin Cancer Susceptibility Index released by a medical technology company,—identifying Canada as a nation where skin cancer is more likely to occur.

Investigators from conducted an international study (July 2016) on skin cancer to better understand the geographical and socio-economic factors that make incidence of the disease more common—and sometimes deadly—in certain regions than others.

The study is divided into two sections: the Skin Cancer Susceptibility Index analyses the UV factor, the average population skin-tone, and the incidence rate from a range of countries. The second section, the Socioeconomic Treatment Index, cross references national health spending, access to treatment, and individual income against mortality rates to better understand the efforts undertaken worldwide to combat the disease.

The research found that skin cancer is more prevalent in developed countries. The results of the Susceptibility Index showed New Zealand as the nation with the highest incidence and likelihood of melanoma per capita, closely followed by Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway. These outcomes are indicative that a high level of UV exposure, coupled with a lighter skin tone (as calculated by the Fitzpatrick Scale) led to a higher diagnosis of skin cancer. The U.S. and the U.K. came in 9th and 10th place respectively and Canada was ranked 19th. The second part of the study, the Socioeconomic Treatment Index, revealed that countries such as New Zealand and Australia, which have some of the highest incidences of skin cancer, also have some of the lowest death rates due to high levels of health spending (based on data from the World Bank), and closer equality in terms of life quality across society (based on data from the Human Development Index). Conversely Nigeria scored lowest on the Socioeconomic Treatment Index due to higher societal inequalities and lower health spending, which arguably leads to the high mortality rate. This is despite their low rank (56) in the Susceptibility Index. Canada was 22 on the Socioeconomic Treatment Index with a mortality rate of 21%. “The incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has increased dramatically over the past decades,” said Prof. Dietrick Abeck, chief medical advisor for, in a press release. “Worldwide, more than three-million non-melanoma skin cancers and 150,000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer.” The study aims to highlight the precautions and prevention that can be taken across the world to combat the disease. Although the incidence rate may be high in countries with a combination of light skin tone and high UV exposure, adequate health care spending, presumably in the form of treatments and education regarding prevention, appears to be effective in keeping the mortality rate lower than in countries with fewer diagnoses, but where less funds are spent on skin cancer prevention.

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