The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK and the Republic of Ireland: a systematic review

Eur J Dermatol. 2023 Jun 1;33(3):218-229. doi: 10.1684/ejd.2023.4496.


Background: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) remain the most prevalent malignancies, contributing a higher workload to cancer registries than all cancers combined. The nature of skin cancers in addition to current coding methods employed by registries give a skewed representation of the workload.

Objectives: A comprehensive search examining the incidence of BCC and/or cSCC at a regional or national level in the UK and Ireland was devised. Standardisation methods were grouped to permit comparison, and a bias assessment tool was employed.

Materials & methods: Sixteen UK and Republic of Ireland epidemiological studies on BCC/cSCC over a 48-year period were compiled, examining incidence, trends and emerging risk factors.

Results: Incidence of BCC within the UK is increasing annually by up to 4%, with rates in Wales increasing by up to 6.6% and 1.6% annually for BCC and cSCC, respectively. Inverse relationships are noted between BCC/cSCC and social deprivation. Although the elderly remain the most at risk, the 30-49 age group have illustrated growth rates of approximately 4%.

Conclusion: This review outlines increasing incidence in the UK with higher rates noted in Wales, the Southeast, West and Central regions. Incidence rates are higher amongst the least socially deprived and an increasing incidence amongst younger age groups was found, however further trend analysis is required. A more comprehensive data collection method within registries is necessary to ensure accurate representation and fluid comparison. Service planning and public awareness campaigns must be implemented to prevent overwhelming future services.

Keywords: UK and Ireland; basal cell carcinoma (BCC); cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC); incidence; risk factors; trends.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Wales