American Academy of Dermatology President Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, responds to a recent CDC study on the prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the United States.
With almost 5 million Americans diagnosed with skin cancer each year, this report emphasizes the need to make skin cancer a national priority. This study validates the role of screening and prevention programs as a mechanism to reduce the incidence of skin cancer and its related costs. The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) has been a long-time advocate for prevention and screening efforts—whether it’s through the Academy's SPOT Skin Cancer education awareness campaign or the more than 2 million free screenings dermatologists perform each year. The Academy believes the best way to reduce health care costs is to prevent health care problems in the first place.
In recent years, there has been a number of new breakthroughs for the treatment of melanoma, and these drugs are expensive, but only comprise a small part of the total cost. The majority of skin cancers are treated very cost efficiently by dermatologists in the office setting. The reason the cost of treating skin cancer has gone up so much is because there's been such a big increase in the total number of skin cancers.
But a patient should never bear economic hardship in order to undergo treatment for a serious disease like skin cancer—it is going to require all stakeholders to find a solution. The Academy believes there is a societal responsibility to help manage the rising cost of care—along with government agencies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, patient groups and policymakers. The country’s rising health care costs are a complex issue, with many factors at play. Physicians are just one part of a larger cost equation. The American Academy of Dermatology and its members are dedicated to solving the larger issues that plague health care.