Cancers of the skin (most of which are basal and squamous cell skin cancers) are by far the most common of all types of cancer. According to one estimate, about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year (occurring in about 3.3 million Americans, as some people have more than one). About 8 out of 10 of 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 in the US die each year from these cancers, and that this rate has been dropping in recent years. Most people who die from these cancers are elderly and may not have seen a doctor until the cancer had already grown quite large. Other people more likely to die of these cancers 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 and tracked by cancer registries, but basal and squamous cell skin cancers are not.
Last Revised: 04/14/2016