Trends in incidence of skin basal cell carcinoma. Additional evidence from a UK primary care database study

Int J Cancer. 2007 Nov 1;121(9):2105-2108. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22952.


We determined the trends in incidence of skin basal cell carcinoma (BCC) using a primary care population-based cohort study in the UK. 11,113 adults with a BCC diagnosis were identified from a total of 7.22 million person-years of data between 1996 and 2003 from the Health Improvement Network database. From a random subsample of BCC cases identified from the database, 93% were confirmed by hospital letter and/or pathology report. The incidence of BCC was 153.9 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI 151.1, 156.8) and was slightly higher in men as compared to women (Incidence Rate Ratio 1.10, 95% CI 1.06, 1.14). There was a 3% increase year on year across the study period (IRR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01, 1.04), with the largest increase in incidence seen in the 30-39 year age groups, although this did not reach statistical significance. Our study indicates 53,000 new cases of BCC are estimated every year in the UK and figures are continuing to rise on a yearly basis. Incidence rates are highest for men and in particular in the older age categories. These findings are consistent with those reported for various other populations. We have also found an increase in incidence in ages 30-39, which may suggest a cohort effect of increasing ultraviolet exposure in successive younger generations. This may have a huge public and service impact in future years in countries such as the UK, with predominantly fair-skinned population, with high leisure exposure to ultraviolet light. Our findings underline the need for more elaborate preventive measures.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology*
  • Databases, Factual / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom