Increase in incidence rates of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer in New Hampshire, USA. New Hampshire Skin Cancer Study Group

Int J Cancer. 1999 May 17;81(4):555-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0215(19990517)81:4<555::aid-ijc9>;2-r.


We conducted a study to estimate the current incidence rates of basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin in the population of New Hampshire (NH), USA, and to quantify recent changes in the incidence rates of these malignancies. BCCs and SCCs diagnosed among NH residents were identified through physician practices and central pathology laboratories in NH and bordering regions from June 1979 through May 1980 and from July 1993 through June 1994. For each diagnosis period, we estimated the age-adjusted incidence rates for both BCC and SCC among both men and women and for separate anatomic sites. Between 1979-1980 and 1993-1994, incidence rates of SCC increased by 235% in men and by 350% in women. Incidence rates of BCC increased by more than 80% in both men and women. While the absolute increase was greatest for tumors of the head and neck, the relative change was most pronounced for tumors on the trunk in men and on the lower limb in women. Thus, there has been a marked rise in the incidence rates of BCC and SCC skin cancers in NH in recent years. The anatomic pattern of increase in BCC and SCC incidence is consistent with an effect of greater sunlight exposure. Studies of BCC and SCC occurrence are needed to identify possible behavioral and environmental factors and to assess possible changes in diagnostic practices that might account for the rise in incidence of these common malignancies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Hampshire / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*