JOURNAL ARTICLE

Skin cancer trends in Northern Ireland and consequences for provision of dermatology services

S E H Hoey, C E J Devereux, L Murray, D Catney, A Gavin, S Kumar, D Donnelly, O M Dolan
British Journal of Dermatology 2007, 156 (6): 1301-7
17535230

BACKGROUND: The incidence of skin cancer, both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), is rising throughout the world. The evaluation of trends in skin cancer will allow better planning of the future development of skin cancer services.

OBJECTIVES: Using data collected from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR), the incidence of the three major cutaneous cancers, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma (MM), was determined and the workload associated with their management assessed.

METHODS: The records of patients with a first diagnosis of BCC, SCC or MM occurring between 1993 and 2002 were retrieved from the NICR database. The annual age- and sex-adjusted incidence rates of all three skin cancers were computed per 100 000 person-years by direct standardization according to the European Standard Population. Trends in incidence were estimated by calculating the estimated annual percentage change using Microsoft Excel. For patients registered with the NICR as having BCC, SCC or MM, the number of pathological reports where malignant samples had been examined was counted and then summed to provide the number of specimens examined each year between 1993 and 2004.

RESULTS: For all three cancers the age-specific rates for both males and females increased with age, except for MM in men aged 75 years and over, where the rates were seen to decrease. Over the 12-year period there was a 62% increase in the overall number of skin cancer samples processed by local pathology laboratories and a 20% increase in the number of patients. These data highlight the fact that many patients will have more than one skin cancer, which reinforces the benefit in collecting data for both patient and sample numbers in order to obtain a true reflection of the workload. The data have also shown that more affluent men and women have higher rates of BCC and MM than their less affluent counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS: In view of the data presented it is clear that management of NMSC and MM will impose significant demands on services in the years ahead. This will impact on the entire multidisciplinary team. Future planning, in terms of manpower and resources, will prove essential if we are to remain in a position to manage our patients with these malignant tumours appropriately.

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