What are the key statistics about basal and squamous cell skin cancers?
Cancer of the skin (including melanoma and basal and squamous cell skin cancers) is by far the most common of all types of cancer. According to one estimate, about 3.5 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year (occurring in about 2.2 million Americans, as some people have more than one). About 8 out of 10 these are basal cell cancers. Squamous cell cancers occur less often.
The number of these cancers has been increasing for many years. This is probably from a combination of better skin cancer detection, people getting more sun exposure, and people living longer.
Death from these cancers is uncommon. It’s thought that about 2,000 people die each year from non-melanoma skin cancers, and that this rate has been dropping in recent years. Most people who die are elderly and may not have seen a doctor until the cancer had already grown quite large. Other people more likely to die of skin cancer are those whose immune system is suppressed, such as those who have had organ transplants.
The exact number of people who develop or die from basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year is not known for sure. Statistics of most other cancers are known because they are reported to cancer registries, but basal and squamous cell skin cancers are not reported.
Last Medical Review: 10/21/2013
Last Revised: 02/20/2014