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Skin Cancer (Cutaneous Oncology) Program

Patient and Family Education

Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Incidence and Risk Factors


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Note: This is for informational purposes only. Doctors cannot provide a diagnosis or individual treatment advice via e-mail. Please consult your physician about your specific health care concerns.

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Basal cell carcinoma:

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and the most common cancer in humans. Approximately 70-80% of all cases of NMSC are BCCa and annually, approximately 200 in every 100,000 people will develop BCCa. The majority of BCCa’s develop in sun exposed areas such as the head and neck. These lesions are usually slow growing and rarely spread to other areas of the body. However, these tumors may invade locally into surrounding tissues causing a significant amount of tissue destruction. Therefore, these tumors must be treated when found.

Sqaumous cell carcinoma:

Squamous cell carcinoma is less common than BCCa and accounts for approximately 20% of all cases of NMSC. As with BCCa, this cancer is associated with sun exposure and lesions are commonly found on the head, neck, arms and legs. Squamous cell carcinoma may also develop in areas of chronic inflammation or scars, such as ulcers and burns. Squamous cell carcinoma is more likely than BCCa to spread to other areas of the body. This occurs 2-3% of the time.

Risk factors for the development of BCCa and SCCa:

This page was last updated on: October 19, 2009.