Epidemiology of basal and squamous cell carcinoma in Belgium: the need for a uniform and compulsory registration

J Callens, L Van Eycken, K Henau, M Garmyn
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV 2016, 30 (11): 1912-1918

BACKGROUND: Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common type of cancer among Caucasians, however, few data exist on its incidence. Because of a sheer volume of these tumours, NMSC is often not systematically registered.

OBJECTIVE: To describe and analyse the incidence of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in Belgium.

METHODS: Incidence data of BCC and SCC, including multiple primary skin tumours in the same patient, were extracted from the Belgian Cancer Registry from 2004 to 2012 (predominantly coming from pathology notifications). Belgian legislation makes cancer registration compulsory for oncological care programmes and for all pathological anatomy laboratories.

RESULTS: Between 2004 and 2012, 113 254 BCC and 33 153 SCC cases were reported in Belgium. A total of 130 339 patients had 146 407 tumours. Approximately, 10% of the patients (12 759 patients) had multiple tumours. The world age-standardised incidence rate (WSR) for BCC increased from 36.9 in 2004 to 98.4 per 100 000 person years in 2012 for males and from 34.2 in 2004 to 102.0 in 2012 for females. For SCC, the WSR increased from 14.9 in 2004 to 24.7 in 2012 for males and from 6.8 in 2004 to 13.5 in 2012 for females.

CONCLUSIONS: From 2004 to 2012, the incidence of BCC and SCC markedly rose in Belgium, as also seen worldwide. Known causes are increased sun exposure caused by changed sunlight-related behaviour (increased outdoor activities and holidays, use of tanning beds and changes in clothing style), ageing and improved registration. Because of their high and increasing incidence, these cancers will have major implications on healthcare planning and preventive measures. Therefore, we recommend compulsory registration, whenever is possible, of BCC and SCC, although it is an ambitious objective, especially in countries with a high burden of these tumours and in countries where registration is currently unavailable.

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