Incidence Estimate of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer (Keratinocyte Carcinomas) in the US Population, 2012 | Cancer Screening, Prevention, Control | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network
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Original Investigation
October 2015

Incidence Estimate of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer (Keratinocyte Carcinomas) in the US Population, 2012

Author Affiliations
  • 1Advanced Dermatology, Norwich, Connecticut
  • 2Department of Dermatology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 4Center for Dermatoepidemiology, VA Medical Center, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 5Department of Dermatology Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 6Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • 7Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(10):1081-1086. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1187

Importance  Understanding skin cancer incidence is critical for planning prevention and treatment strategies and allocating medical resources. However, owing to lack of national reporting and previously nonspecific diagnosis classification, accurate measurement of the US incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) has been difficult.

Objective  To estimate the incidence of NMSC (keratinocyte carcinomas) in the US population in 2012 and the incidence of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the 2012 Medicare fee-for-service population.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This study analyzes US government administrative data including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Physicians Claims databases to calculate totals of skin cancer procedures performed for Medicare beneficiaries from 2006 through 2012 and related parameters. The population-based National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey database was used to estimate NMSC-related office visits for 2012. We combined these analyses to estimate totals of new skin cancer diagnoses and affected individuals in the overall US population.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Incidence of NMSC in the US population in 2012 and BCC and SCC in the 2012 Medicare fee-for-service population.

Results  The total number of procedures for skin cancer in the Medicare fee-for-service population increased by 13% from 2 048 517 in 2006 to 2 321 058 in 2012. The age-adjusted skin cancer procedure rate per 100 000 beneficiaries increased from 6075 in 2006 to 7320 in 2012. The number of procedures in Medicare beneficiaries specific for NMSC increased by 14% from 1 918 340 in 2006 to 2 191 100 in 2012. The number of persons with at least 1 procedure for NMSC increased by 14% (from 1 177 618 to 1 336 800) from 2006 through 2012. In the 2012 Medicare fee-for-service population, the age-adjusted procedure rate for BCC and SCC were 3280 and 3278 per 100 000 beneficiaries, respectively. The ratio of BCC to SCC treated in Medicare beneficiaries was 1.0. We estimate the total number of NMSCs in the US population in 2012 at 5 434 193 and the total number of persons in the United States treated for NMSC at 3 315 554.

Conclusions and Relevance  This study is a thorough nationwide estimate of the incidence of NMSC and provides evidence of continued increases in numbers of skin cancer diagnoses and affected patients in the United States. This study also demonstrates equal incidence rates for BCC and SCC in the Medicare population.