Israel doesn’t have highest skin cancer rate outside Australasia

21 March 2024
What was claimed

Israel has the highest skin cancer rate of any country outside Australasia.

Our verdict

This is not true. After Australasian countries, Denmark has the highest melanoma skin cancer rate, while the US has the highest non-melanoma rate.

Israel does not have the highest skin cancer rate of any country outside of Australasia, as has been claimed on social media.

In actuality, Israel isn’t among the top 20 for either melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer rates in the most recent data available from the World Health Organisation (some of which is based on projected recent trends).

Bad information can spread widely and quickly on social media, and may harm democracy or even people's health.

Skin cancer rates are somewhat uncertain, because not all cancer cases are recorded by cancer registries. There are also different types of skin cancer, commonly divided into melanoma and non-melanoma.

There are even different kinds of “rate”—both the “crude” rate, which shows the absolute number of cases as a share of a country’s population, and the age-standardised rate (ASR), which adjusts this figure to take account of that population’s age structure. This adjustment is important because, for example, countries with older populations naturally tend to have more cases of diseases associated with old age, but that might not mean those countries have a “worse” rate of the disease. For these reasons, when making comparisons between countries, it’s best to use the ASR.

According to 2022 data from the World Health Organisation, Denmark is the country with the highest melanoma skin cancer ASR outside Australasia, at 31.1 cases per 100,000 people. Israel is actually 23rd globally, with 10.8 cases per 100,000 in 2022.

For non-melanoma skin cancers, the United States has the highest ASR outside Australasia with 63.3 per 100,000). Israel is actually 148th globally on this list, with an ASR of 1.5 per 100,000.

There have been reports in the past that Israel had a high rate of skin cancer, which has reportedly since improved.

Image courtesy of Ante Samarzija

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