Basal cell skin carcinoma and other nonmelanoma skin cancers in Finland from 1956 through 1995

A Hannuksela-Svahn, E Pukkala, J Karvonen
Archives of Dermatology 1999, 135 (7): 781-6

OBJECTIVE: To study trends of nonmelanoma skin cancer in Finland.

DESIGN: Descriptive analysis of incidence and mortality rates for basal cell skin carcinoma (BCC) and other non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) from 1966 and 1956, respectively, through 1995 in relation to sex, age, anatomical distribution, place of residence, and occupation.

SETTING: Data were obtained from the nationwide Finnish Cancer Registry, to which reporting of skin cancer is compulsory.

PATIENTS: Inhabitants of Finland (5.1 million in 1998).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Age- and sex-specific incidence and mortality rates and overall rates adjusted for age to the world standard population; occupation-specific standardized incidence ratios, with the total Finnish population as reference.

RESULTS: The age-adjusted incidence rate in 1991 through 1995 for BCC was 49 per 100,000 person-years in men and 45 in women. For NMSC it was 8.7 in men and 5.3 in women. Both cancer types showed an increasing trend in incidence rates. The proportion of tumors in the face, scalp, and neck was 59% for BCC and 67% for NMSC. The incidence rate of NMSC increased from north to south, while there was no great urban-rural or occupational variation in the occurrence of NMSC. The incidence rate for BCC was higher in urban than in rural regions. Farmers, forestry workers, and fishermen showed low incidence of BCC, whereas occupations with a high level of education or compulsory health checkups and medical care occupations appeared to have an increased incidence of BCC. The mortality rate for BCC in 1991 through 1995 was 0.08 per 100,000 person-years in men and 0.05 in women, and for NMSC, it was 0.38 in men and 0.23 in women. The mortality trend was decreasing for both cancer types.

CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of NMSC is fairly low in Finland, accounting for 3.5% of all new cancer cases. Conversely, BCC is the most common cancer type. The incidence trend is increasing for both skin cancer types, but mortality remains low.

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