Analysis: Where Americans are most concerned about skin cancer
It may surprise you to hear skin cancer rates are higher in Delaware, Vermont, and Minnesota than in California, Florida, and Texas. But it’s true! It’s a phenomenon we dermatologists have understood for quite some time—people in states with intermittent sun exposure are less vigilant in preventing sunburn. Anyone who has lived in the Midwest or Northeast has seen evidence of this after that first bright, sunny day in May or June. People can’t help themselves, they overdo it.
Noting the variance of skin cancer rates across our country, we’re curious about people’s awareness of risk within their respective states, and whether their level of concern is appropriate for where they live.
By measuring Google search trends at a state level, we’ve been able to determine where in the country people are most and least actively concerned about skin cancer. And, by comparing local levels of concern to local levels of risk, we’ve constructed a nationwide portrait of America’s relationship with skin cancer prevention.
Below is a list ranking all 50 US states from the most extremely concerned to the most dangerously unconcerned. States are designated at various levels based on how their concern matches up with their level of risk.
In September of 2018 we conducted an analysis of Google search trends related to awareness and prevention of skin cancer. We identified seven search terms that indicate some level of interest in or concern for skin cancer prevention:
- “how to prevent skin cancer”
- “skin cancer prevention”
- “how to prevent melanoma”
- “skin cancer risk”
- “best sun protection”
- “best sunscreen”
- “best uv protection”
The data gathered represents rolling averages of the preceding 12 months of search volume, in each of 50 US states. We related search volume to state populations in order to produce a metric representing each state’s relative level of concern.
We then compared levels of concern to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, which indicates rates of skin cancer occurrence in each US state. Comparing the levels of concern against the relative risk in each state, we identified where each state falls along a spectrum of concern, spanning from an extreme level of concern to a dangerous lack of concern.