THERE WERE ALMOST 7,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Ireland each year between 1994 and 2011, and the rate of certain subtypes has increased since 2002.
According to the National Cancer Registry Ireland’s latest cancer trends publication on non-melanoma skin cancer, malignant melanoma accounted for just over 8 per cent of the cases of invasive skin cancer diagnosed during that period.
Types of skin cancer
Out of the non-melanoma skin cancers, 68 per cent were basal (BCC) and 30 per cent were squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).
Males had a higher incidence rate for both BCC and SCC than females, but males were more likely than females to have SCC and the BCC/SCC ratio in males was much lower than in females.
This may be because men are are more likely to have outdoor occupations, and so have more long-term chronic sun exposure than females.
The majority of all tumours in both sexes were located on the face, but men were more likely to have SCC tumours on the scalp, neck and upper limbs.
Non melanoma skin cancer is more common in older people – the majority of patients were aged 60 or older when diagnosed.
Males and females
Rates of both subtypes of skin cancer in females and males have increased since the early 2000s, being 33 per cent and 39 per cent higher in 2011 than in 2002.
According to the NCR:
From the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s there was little overall change in incidence rate for NMSC, with rates in females remaining fairly level and a slight decline in males. However rates of both subtypes have subsequently increased, and for both sexes current rates (2011) are between 33 per cent and 39 per cent higher than those in 2002. An annual percentage change of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent has been recorded during the last 10 years.
There are very few deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer. Incidence rates for BCC were higher than the national average for both males and females in the HSE areas around Dublin, and lowest in the HSE West for both sexes.
The rates in the HSE south were closest to the national average.
The incidence of both BCC and SCC was significantly higher in urban than in rural populations overall – particularly with BCC. Both males and females in the most affluent urban areas have statistically significantly higher incidence than those in the most deprived areas.
The incidence of SCC was highest in the most affluent areas and significantly lower in the most deprived regions.