Epidemiology of BCC

August 17, 2015

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in the world, with the overall incidence significantly rising across the globe by about 3 to 10% annually.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in the world, with about a third of individuals developing a BCC at one point in their lifetime, according to David Hogg, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada.

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The incidence is unfortunately increasing, with the overall incidence significantly rising across the globe by about 3 to 10% annually1. Squamous cell carcinomas represent about 20%, and BCCs represent 80% of non-melanoma skin cancers. The development of BCC is strongly linked to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, with the UV exposure resulting in cumulative DNA damage and gene mutations. The rising incidence of BCCs has also been attributed to increased longevity.

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Interestingly, it has been observed that BCCs vary with geography: research suggests that the closer that Caucasians live to the equator, the greater the risk of developing BCCs2.

BCCs typically appear on sun-exposed sites like the face, scalp, ears, hands, and trunk, with the majority appearing on the head and neck, Dr. Hogg says. In general, BCC incidence increases with rising socioeconomic class. However, patients who develop complex, large or metastatic BCCs may have a lower socioeconomic status and be more isolated socially than members of the general population3.       

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References

1Ruben AI,  Chen EH, Ratner D. Basal-cell carcinoma. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(21):2262-29.

2Diepen TL, Mahler V. The epidemiology of skin cancer. Br J Dermatol. 2002;146 Suppl 61:1-6.

3Robinson JK, Altman JS, Rademaker AW.  Socioeconomic status and attitudes of 51 patients with giant basal and squamous cell carcinoma and paired controls. Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(4):428-31.