Skin Cancer Cases Are Out of Control in These 15 American States (No. 1 Will Shock You)

It’s one of the scariest words in the English language — cancer. If you’re lucky, you’ll go your whole life without being a cancer patient, but odds are you’ll be one of the millions of diagnoses that happen each year. Skin cancer is the most common form of the disease, and chances are you’ll never guess which American state has the highest rate of skin cancer cases.

The rate of cases here are per 100,000 people and include only melanoma diagnoses or deaths based on Centers for Disease Control data. We were surprised almost every step of the way, including when we reached Nos. 3 and 2 on the list, but No.1 is running.

13. Oregon (TIE)

Portland, Oregon

A look at Portland, Ore. | Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 25.8

We know Oregon more for the craft beer scene, loose marijuana laws, and high home prices, but skin cancer is also an issue there. The state has one of the highest rates of diagnosis of any place in the country.

Next: Another unlikely state on our countdown.

13. North Dakota (TIE)

Fargo, North Dakota, United States

Fargo, North Dakota. | Ben Harding/iStock/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 25.8

Just like Oregon, you probably don’t associate North Dakota with skin cancer cases, but here we are. Nearly 26 people out of 100,000 receive a melanoma diagnosis, and that’s not even factoring in the other types of skin cancer you can develop.

Next: Wealth doesn’t impact cancer rates.

13. Maryland (TIE)

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore and Maryland are both prone to skin cancer cases. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 25.8

Cancer doesn’t care about wealth or status, and Maryland is proof. The state has tons of millionaires, but it also has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in America. It had 1,733 new melanoma cases the last time the CDC reported its data.

Next: Let’s return to an area of the country we’ve already visited.

12. Washington

ARLINGTON, WA - MARCH 23: (NO SALES) Snohomish County Sheriff officers monitor the scene a short ways up the road from the mudslide at mile 37 on Highway 530 on March 23, 2014 near Arlington, Washington. Four people have been confirmed dead and at least 18 others are still missing after a massive mudslide in Oso, Washington.

Remeber your sunscreen when enjoying Washington’s natural beauty.  | Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 26.1

Washington has a lot in common with its neighbor to the south, Oregon. They both have lots of craft breweries, legal marijuana, high home prices, and surprising numbers of skin cancer cases. Washington’s rate is slightly higher, though.

Next: A high rate of cases in this Midwest state.

11. Iowa

Iowa fans hold up a sign of support.

Hopefully, they remembered their sun protection. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 26.5

Iowa’s 955 melanoma cases put it in the middle of the pack nationally, but its skin cancer rate is one of the highest in the U.S. Patients will have to pay to have their cancer treated, but on the flip side, Iowa is one of the least expensive places to live.

Next: Cancer is rampant in this state.

10. North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Cancer is a problem in Charlotte and the rest of North Carolina. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 26.8

North Carolina’s polluted environment contributes to a high incidence of lung cancers and other diseases, but it also has a ton of skin cancer cases. Both in number and rate, the Tar Heel State is one of the worst for melanoma and other skin cancers.

Next: This state’s trying to get the word out.

8. Kentucky (TIE)

Louisville, KY

Kentucky is fighting against its rate of skin cancer cases. | toddtaulman/iStock/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 27.1

Like we mentioned earlier, most of the states on our list completely surprise us, including Kentucky. It has one of the highest rates of skin cancer cases in the U.S., but people there are trying to get the word out and offer tips for sun protection.

Next: Yet another public health problem for this state.

8. Georgia (TIE)

Phonak Hearing System team drives the peloton

Skin cancer is a big problem in Georgia. | Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 27.1

Georgia and Kentucky both have the same rate of melanoma diagnoses, but skin cancer isn’t the only public health problem there. The state also has one of the highest diabetes rates in America, too.

Next: People here need to change their sun protection behavior.

6. Maine (TIE)

US President George W. Bush (R) and former president George HW Bush

The Bush family vacations in Maine, one of the states with lots of skin cancer cases. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 28.0

If there are two things to remember about sun protection, they are that you should always wear sunscreen no matter what and that clouds don’t stop the sun’s harmful rays. People in Maine must not have read the memo, because it’s a hotbed for skin cancer. We’d say it’s time for residents to change their sun protection behavior.

Next: A double whammy

6. Idaho (TIE)

sun valley, idaho

Sunscreen is a must in Idaho, including in Sun Valley. | Mark Davis/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 28.0

The folks living in Idaho have it bad. Not only do they have one of the highest skin cancer rates in the country, but they also live in one of the worst states for decent health care. That’s an unfortunate double whammy.

Next: A place with two slivers of a silver lining.

5. Delaware

People relax on the beach at Cape Henlopen, Delaware, on June 5, 2013. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

People relax on the beach at Cape Henlopen, Delaware. | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

Rate of diagnosis: 29.5

Even though Delaware has one of the highest rates of skin cancer cases, there are two bits of a silver lining. First, its 346 melanoma diagnoses are one of the lowest figures in the country. That, and skin cancers such as melanoma aren’t among the cancers that don’t show symptoms, so they’re easy to spot and treat.

Next: A distinction this state probably doesn’t want.

3. Minnesota (TIE)

minnesota sign

Even when it’s cold, you still need sun protection in Minnesota. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 31.6

Minnesota is the No. 1 state in the Midwest for melanoma cases, which is a distinction it probably doesn’t want. If you can believe it, things get worse for the Land of 10,000 Lakes. According to a report from the Minneapolis Post, the melanoma diagnosis and death rates are rising, not falling.

Next: Let’s head to another northern state.

3. New Hampshire (TIE)

New Hampshire State House

Overcast skies aren’t a reason to forego sunscreen in New Hampshire. | Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 31.6

New Hampshire is very similar to Maine, a state we visited earlier on our list. It has a high Caucasian population, a group that tends to have the most skin cancer cases, especially white men over 50. Plus, the generally overcast skies might be luring people into a false sense of safety.

Next: A generally healthy state, except for skin cancer.

2. Vermont

Vermont scenery

Vermont is healthy overall except when it comes to skin cancer. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 35.8

If you look at any factor aside from the number of skin cancer cases, you see Vermont is one of the most healthy states in America. Its rate is four points higher than its neighbor, New Hampshire, but it has a long way to go to be No. 1 on this list.

Next: Things are going the wrong way in the shocking No. 1 state.

1. Utah

A man hanging a sign saying "save grand staircase escalante"

Utah’s melanoma rate doubled in 17 years. | George Frey/Getty Images

Rate of diagnosis: 40.5

We don’t know about you, but we’re shocked seeing Utah in the No. 1 spot by such a wide margin. Utah may have some of the best places to live, but it’s lousy with its skin cancer cases, and things are getting worse. The rate of melanoma diagnoses doubled in 17 years to its current level, according to a report from Deseret News.

Next: A few tips for fighting skin cancer.

Prepare yourself to fight against skin cancer

diagnosis of skin diseases

If you see a mole like this, it’s time to go to the doctor. | Artem Balatskyi/Getty Images

  • Knowing the risk factors improves your 50-50 shot at surviving melanoma.

In a scary bit of news, melanoma is one of the cancers with the highest mortality rates. If you’re diagnosed in the stage IIC level, it’s pretty much a 50-50 shot.

However, knowing the risk factors and seeing your doctor can help catch skin cancer early, thus improving your chances of a full recovery. And it should be common knowledge, but we’ll say it anyway: Wearing sunscreen year-round is the best way to limit cancer-causing sun damage your skin.

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