Rates of non-melanoma skin cancer rising in Ontario

The rates of keratinocyte carcinomas (KCs) in Ontario, Canada increased 30% between 2003 and 2017.


These findings come from a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (Oct. 04, 2021; 193(39):E1516-E1524).


KCs, commonly known as non-melanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of malignant disease, the authors note.


The investigators conducted a population-based, retrospective study of adults in Ontario between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2017. Using linked health administrative databases, they identified first diagnosis of KCs as well as KC-related deaths. 


They found that KC rates had declined from 1998 to 2003, but then increased by 30% to rates of 369 per 100,000 in males, and 345 per 100,000 in females in 2017.


When the findings were broken down by age and other demographics, the authors found incidence rates were higher in females younger than 55 years, and higher in males aged 55 years or older. In higher-income quintiles, incidence rates were higher in males than in females.


Mortality rates were on average 1.8 times higher in males over the whole study period compared to in females, and rose 4.8-fold in that time.


The authors conclude that the population burden of keratinocyte carcinoma is growing in Ontario. They note that the incidence and mortality rates rose disproportionately among certain sex- and age-specific groups in the period they studied.


“Our study highlights differences by sex in population-based estimates of keratinocyte carcinoma in Ontario, Canada. The increasing incidence rates (particularly in younger females) and disproportionately rising mortality rates of keratinocyte carcinoma are concerning,” they write. “Further research is necessary to evaluate the reasons for the epidemiological trends. Renewed public health efforts are warranted to promote preventive measures, patient education and early diagnosis.”

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