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EADV Congress: Non-melanoma skin cancer killing more people than melanoma, new study finds

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BERLIN, Oct. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is causing a greater number of global deaths than melanoma, the more serious form of skin cancer, a new study presented today at the EADV Congress 2023 has found.

Researchers also believe that NMSC is underreported and that the true impact of this disease may be even higher than estimated.

Professor Thierry Passeron, lead author of the study, explains, “Although NMSC is less likely to be fatal than melanoma skin cancer, its prevalence is strikingly higher. In 2020, NMSC accounted for 78% of all skin cancer cases, resulting in over 63,700 deaths. In contrast, melanoma caused an estimated 57,000 fatalities in the same year. The significantly higher incidence of NMSC has, therefore, led to a more substantial overall impact.”

Professor Passeron adds, “As alarming as these figures are, they may, in fact, be underestimated. NMSC is often underreported in cancer registries, making it challenging to understand the true burden.”

The researchers also identified specific population groups that were more at risk of this disease, including people who work outside, organ transplant recipients and those who have the skin condition xeroderma pigmentosum.

The study, which utilised data from the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, found a high incidence of skin cancer in fair-skinned and elderly populations from the USA, Germany, UK, France, Australia and Italy. However, even countries with a high proportion of dark phenotypes were not immune to the risk of death from skin cancer.

In 2020, there were nearly 1.2 million reported cases of NMSC worldwide compared with 324,635 cases of melanoma. The majority of skin cancer occurrences are non-melanoma, referring to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin, with common types including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Professor Passeron comments, “We have to get the message out that not only melanoma can be fatal, but NMSC also. It’s crucial to note that individuals with melanin rich skin are also at risk and are dying from skin cancer. There is a need to implement effective strategies to reduce the fatalities associated with all kinds of skin cancers.”

“We need to do more to ensure we are stopping the progression of this disease as early as possible to save lives.” 

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