Non-melanoma skin cancer has seen an increase in global deaths compared to melanoma primarily because of its higher prevalence. While non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are generally less deadly on an individual basis than melanoma, their high incidence rates contribute to more deaths in absolute numbers. In 2020, there were nearly 1.2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer worldwide compared to 324,635 cases of melanoma. The death toll for non-melanoma skin cancers was 63,700, whereas melanoma resulted in 57,000 deaths.
Several factors contribute to the rising incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers:
- Aging Population: As the global population ages, the accumulated UV radiation exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
- Ozone Depletion: The depletion of the ozone layer, which absorbs UV radiation, has led to increased UV exposure.
- Lack of Awareness: In some countries, such as the United States, there is less awareness of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer. Awareness campaigns can play a significant role in early detection and prevention.
- Risk Factors: Skin cancer rates are higher in regions with a large population of fair-skinned individuals living in sunny climates, such as Australia and New Zealand.
- Lumping of Data: The study lumps together various types of non-melanoma skin cancer, including rare but more aggressive types, which can skew death rates.
It’s important to raise awareness about the risks of skin cancer and educate the public on preventive measures. Regular skin checks and early treatment are essential to reduce the impact of skin cancer. Additionally, while non-melanoma skin cancers are generally less deadly, they still require medical attention and can lead to complications when left untreated or not treated promptly.