Non Melanoma Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is often categorized into either melanoma or non melanoma. Non melanoma skin cancer occurs in either basal or squamous cells. These cells are located at the base of the outer layer of the skin or cover the internal and external surfaces of the body. Non melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It is very difficult to gather statistics on non melanoma skin cancer because it usually does not enter the cancer data collection system since It is usually treated successfully by dermatologists in their office and therefore does not require hospitalization. Therefore, non melanoma skin cancer statistics are mostly estimates. Most non melanoma skin cancers develop on sun exposed areas of the body, like the face, neck, and the backs of the hands.
The factors that increase the risk of developing non melanoma skin cancer include:
- Personal or family history of skin cancer.
- Exposure to radiation from the sun or from artificial UV light.
- Having been exposed to therapeutic radiation.
- Sun sensitivity - sun burning or freckles easily.
- Light colored skin, eyes, and hair.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Exposure to coal tar, arsenic compounds, radium, or other industrial chemicals.
- Prevent Skin Cancer: Stay Safe in the Sun
- How can I protect myself, and my family, from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays?
- What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
- How should I eat to reduce my risk of cancer?
Skin cancer is the special topic in the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Most provincial/territorial cancer registries do not collect non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) incidence data. Though these cancers are common, they are difficult to register completely because they are often treated successfully in a doctor's office and generally do not require hospitalization. As a result, Canada-wide NMSC estimates are based on data from four provinces that include these cancers.
- In 2014, about 76,100 Canadians will be diagnosed with NMSC and 440 Canadians will die from it. NMSC accounts for about 28% of all new cancer cases in Canada.
- NMSC has two main subtypes: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). About 77% of NMSC cases are BCC and 23% are SCC. SCC is potentially more aggressive than BCC.
- 1 in 8 Canadians will develop BCC in their lifetime and 1 in 20 for SCC.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for NMSC is higher than melanoma.
The one exception is Table 1 “Estimated New Cases and Deaths for Cancers by Sex, Canada, 2008”. The estimated number of new cases of non melanoma skin cancer in 2008 are 40,000 men and 33,000 women. The estimated number of deaths from non melanoma skin cancer in 2008 are 160 men and 100 women.
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