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July 1999

The Mysteries of Geographic Variability in Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Incidence

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Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(7):843-844. doi:10.1001/archderm.135.7.843

IN THE second half of this millennium, efforts to document the incidence of both basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) have greatly expanded. The article in this month's ARCHIVES1 presents new data on this subject showing that incidence in Finland is similar to that in other northern European nations. It is clear that among people of European ancestry whose ancestors migrated to either the United States or Australia, BCC is by far the most common cancer. Although only about one fifth as frequent as BCC in the United States and Australia, SCC of the skin is among the most frequent cancers in the United States and, after BCC, the most frequent cancer in Australia. The substantial differences in the risk of these tumors among Europeans, Asians, and Africans is well documented. Some studies suggest that the incidence of these tumors has increased over recent decades.2 A brief look at the available incidence data reveals how much more there is to be learned about both the epidemiology and the natural history of nonmelanoma skin cancer.

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