Facts & Statistics

A Closer Look at Skin Cancer Facts and Statistics

The two most common forms of skin cancer are—by far—basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell skin cancer (SCSC). The third most common type of skin cancer is melanoma, but it only represents about 1% of skin cancer diagnoses. Other, even less prevalent skin cancers exist, such as Merkel cell carcinoma and Kaposi sarcoma. This website focuses on BCC and SCSC.

For melanoma facts and statistics, please visit AIM at Melanoma.

The term nonmelanoma skin cancer is used to refer to all skin cancer that is not melanoma. In the U.S., nonmelanoma skin cancer numbers are not tracked in government databases as melanoma and most other cancers are, which means that incidence numbers, prevalence numbers, and survival rates are estimates—and the estimates are likely low. It also means that we don’t have annual data that allows us to easily track changes in incidence, prevalence, death over the years. Finally, it means the estimates we do have are often not current.

Nonetheless, the estimates and research available clearly tell us that cases of BCC and SCSC are on the rise and that they are primarily related to UV exposure, whether from the sun or indoor tanning devices.

Basic facts and statistics

• Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in adults; the vast majority of nonmelanoma skin cancer cases are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell skin cancer.
• Almost one in five Americans will develop skin cancer.1,2
• Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the next five most prevalent cancer types combined.1
• In the United States, the diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer has increased dramatically, with a growth rate of 77% between 1994 and 2014.3

Incidence and prevalence: Both are high among older adults in the U.S. and the world

• More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012.4
• Globally, in 2019, there were 6.35 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer.5
• Nonmelanoma skin cancers occur more frequently in males than females. For example, globally, in 2019, 58% of cases occurred in males and 42% occurred in females.5
• The incidence of squamous cell skin cancer has increased significantly in the past three decades—the estimated increase is anywhere from 50% to 200%.6
• The incidence of basal cell carcinoma doubled among men and women in the U.S. between 1986 and 2006.7
• The incidence of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell skin cancer increases with age due to accumulating DNA damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun.6,7
• Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. As an example, among the Medicare population, 1,029,660 basal cell carcinomas and 837,940 squamous cell carcinomas were treated in 2012 alone.4
• The U.S. ranks third in the world for the highest rate of nonmelanoma skin cancers in the population, behind only Australia and New Zealand.8

The risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancers are substantial for certain individuals

• The risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer is high for those who spend a lot of time in the sun: The U.S. saw a widespread increase in voluntary and extended exposure to the sun’s UV radiation between 1960 and 1980. Not surprisingly, this widespread increase in exposure correlates with the rise of squamous cell skin cancer in the U.S. population.9
• In older patients, the risk for premalignant actinic keratoses to become squamous cell skin cancer is 28.5% after five years.10
• Organ transplant recipients have a risk for invasive squamous cell skin cancer that is 82 times higher than the general non-transplanted population.11
• The risk for skin cancer is significant for non-Hispanic White males over 50 years of age following a thoracic organ transplantation.12
• A small, dose-dependent increased risk for squamous cell skin cancer occurs among high treatment-intensity users of hydrochlorothiazide-containing medications indicated for the treatment of hypertension and edema. The risk is likely related to the drug’s photosensitizing properties.13

UV safety campaigns are important to raise awareness and save lives

• Studies estimate that 83.0% of squamous cell and 80.5% of basal cell carcinomas result from exposure to UV radiation—whether from the sun or from indoor tanning.14
• Indoor tanning is responsible for 244,930 cases of basal cell carcinoma and 168,115 cases of squamous cell skin cancer per year.15
• From 1983 to 2017 in the U.S., skin cancer diagnoses were seasonal. Most basal cell carcinomas are diagnosed in August, September and October, whereas most squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in July, August, and October.16

Nonmelanoma skin cancer has a high rate of survival, relative to many other cancer types

• Globally, in 2019, there were 56,100 people who succumbed to nonmelanoma skin cancers, with 59% of those deaths among males and 41% of those deaths among females. Of the 6.35M cases worldwide in 2019, less than 1% resulted in death.5
• Globally, in 2019, nonmelanoma skin cancer ranked in the bottom quintile of cancers contributing to global cancer death, above thyroid (45,600 deaths per year), mesothelioma (29,300), Hodgkin lymphoma (27,600), and testicular cancer (10,800), and just below melanoma.5
• Globally, in 2020, there were 63,731 people who succumbed to nonmelanoma skin cancers, an increase of 13% from the previous year. The number of deaths represents less than 1% of the total worldwide cancer deaths that year.17


  1. Benci JL, Minn AJ, Vachani CC et al. Survivorship care planning in skin cancer: An unbiased statistical approach to identifying patterns of care-plan use. Cancer. 2018;124(1):183-191. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30985
  2. Robinson JK. Sun exposure, sun protection, and vitamin D. JAMA. 2005; 294: 1541-1543. doi: 10.1001/jama.294.12.1541
  3. Mohan SV, Chang ALS. Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma: Epidemiology and Therapeutic Innovations. Curr Dermatol Rep. 2014;3(1):40-45. doi: 10.1007/s13671-014-0069-y
  4. Rogers HW, Weinstock MA, Feldman SR et al. Incidence Estimate of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer (Keratinocyte Carcinomas) in the U.S. Population, 2012. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(10):1081-6. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1187
  5. Kocarnik JM, Compton K, Dean FE et al. Cancer Incidence, Mortality, Years of Life Lost, Years Lived With Disability, and Disability-Adjusted Life Years for 29 Cancer Groups From 2010 to 2019: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. JAMA Oncol. 2022;8(3):420-444. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.6987
  6. Waldman A and Schmults C. Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2019;33(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.hoc.2018.08.001
  7. Wu S, Han J, Li W et al. Basal-cell carcinoma incidence and associated risk factors in U.S. women and men. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;178(6):890-7. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt073
  8. World Health Organization / International Agency for Research on Cancer. Global Cancer Observatory. Accessed: 2023 Nov 29. Updated: 2023. https://gco.iarc.fr/
  9. Glass AG, Hoover RN. The emerging epidemic of melanoma and squamous cell skin cancer. JAMA. 1989;262(15)2097-2100.
  10. Mohr C, Li Y, Navsaria LJ et al. Skin Cancers in Medicare Beneficiaries With Actinic Keratoses. JAMA Dermatol. 2023;159(12):1368-1372. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2023.4266
  11. Moloney FJ, Comber H, O’Lorcain P et al. A population-based study of skin cancer incidence and prevalence in renal transplant recipients. Br J Dermatol. 2006;154(3):498-504. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.07021.x
  12. Garrett GL, Blan PC, Boscardin J et al. Incidence of and Risk Factors for Skin Cancer in Organ Transplant Recipients in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(3):296-303. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4920
  13. Eworuke E, Haug N, Bradley M et al. Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer in Association With Use of Hydrochlorothiazide-Containing Products in the United States. JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2021;5(2):pkab009. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pkab009
  14. O’Sullivan DE, Brenner DR, Villeneuve PJ et at. The current burden of non-melanoma skin cancer attributable to ultraviolet radiation and related risk behaviours in Canada. Cancer Causes Control. 2021;32(3):279-290. doi: 10.1007/s10552-020-01382-1
  15. Wehner MR, Chren MM, Nameth D et al. International prevalence of indoor tanning: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Derm. 2014;150(4):390-400. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6896
  16. Samia AM, Nenow J. Seasonal Variation in the Diagnosis of Skin Cancers From 1983 to 2017 in Greenville, North Carolina. Cureus. 2022; 14(3): e23254. doi: 10.7759/cureus.23254
  17. Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL et al. Global Cancer Statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN Estimates of Incidence and Mortality Worldwide for 36 Cancers in 185 Countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021;71(3):209-249. doi: 10.3322/caac.21660