What is the prevalence of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in the US?

Updated: Mar 23, 2021
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports skin cancer as being the most common cancer in the United States, with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) constituting the majority of cases. The ACS cites an estimate that about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year in about 3.3 million persons in the US, with about 80% of those being BCCs. Although the number of these skin cancers has been increasing for years, death from them remains uncommon: non-melanoma skin cancers are estimated to cause about 2000 deaths annually, and that number has been decreasing in recent years. [42]

The estimated lifetime risk for BCC in the white population is 33-39% for men and 23-28% for women. BCC incidence doubles every 25 years.

In states near the equator, such as Hawaii, BCC incidence is approaching three-fold that of states in the Midwest, such as Minnesota. BCC incidence also varies globally. The highest rates of skin cancer occur in South Africa and Australia, areas that receive high amounts of UV radiation. [43] Australia has a trend toward increasing BCC incidence, while Finland has a low reported incidence that is approximately one quarter that in Minnesota; BCC incidence in Finland also appears to be increasing, however, especially among young women.

BCC is the least likely cancer to metastasize. BCC differs from squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for 16% of skin cancers and is more life-threatening.

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