Incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer continues to increase in the USA

1. The total number of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) in the US population was estimated to have increased to 5,434,193 in 2012 from 4,013,890 in 2006.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)           

Study Rundown: Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), which includes both basal and squamous cell carcinomas, is the most common malignancy in the United States. It is associated with tremendous financial burden on our healthcare system, and can cause significant morbidity for patients if treatment options are not pursued when the disease is in early stages. The authors of this study aimed to establish up-to-date and accurate estimates of the incidence of NMSC in the US Medicare fee-for-service population. They found that between 2006 and 2012 the incidence of NMSC increased by over a million cases, and the total number of fee-for-service Medicare skin cancer procedures increased by 13%. The large sample size strengthens this group’s findings; however using the Medicare fee-for-service population to approximate the rate of NMSCs per affected individual in the general population may have limited the accuracy.

Click to read the study in JAMA Dermatology

Relevant Reading: Timing of subsequent new tumors in patients who present with basal cell carcinoma or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

In-Depth [cross-sectional study]: Incidence estimates were made using two Medicare databases (Total Claims Data set and Medicare Limited Data Set Standard Analytic File 5% Sample Physician Supplier Data) as well as national survey data (National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey) from 2006 to 2012. The total number of procedures for NMSC in the Medicare fee-for-service population increased from 2,048,517 in 2006 to 2,321,058 in 2012. The age-adjusted rate of NMSC procedures increased from 6,075 per 100,000 beneficiaries in 2006 to 7,320 in 2012. The number of persons with at least one procedure for treatment of a NMSC increased by 14% from 2006 to 2012, although the average number of procedures per Medicare beneficiary stayed stable over this time-period. The number of skin cancers treated per patient was calculated to be 1.64. The ratio of BCC to SCC treated in the Medicare fee-for-service population was 1.0. The estimated incidence for NMSC in the US population in 2012 was 5,434,193, and the total number of persons in the US treated for NMSC the same year was estimated to be 3,315,554.

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