All the different types of skin cancers that do not fall under melanoma are referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer. Various kinds of skin cancer come under the wider category of nonmelanoma, with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma being the most common.
Life Expectancy Of Someone With Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
The life expectancy of nonmelanoma skin cancer is very high and often total recovery is possible with timely treatment (1).
If you have skin cancer other than melanoma, you may be wondering about your prognosis. A prognosis is a measure by which the doctor best assesses how cancer will affect people and how they will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a physician who is familiar with your medical history, the type of cancer you have, the size and grade of the tumor, the treatments chosen, and the response to treatment can examine all of these data in conjunction with survival statistics to determine if to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognostic factor is an aspect of cancer or a characteristic of the person that the physician considers when making a prognosis. Prognostic factors help doctors make a prognosis and plan treatment and follow-up.
Physicians use several of the following prognostic factors to classify basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma into risk categories. Risk categories help physicians assess the risk of recurrence of cancer. Physicians also use risk categories to help plan the best treatment. The prognosis and survival for most skin cancers other than melanoma are excellent 2.
Risk Categories For Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer 2
Physicians classify most skin cancers other than melanoma into risk categories that are based on several prognostic factors, including cancer size and location. Risk categories allow physicians to assess the risk of recurrence of cancer. Doctors also use it to help plan the best treatment.
Survival Statistics For Skin Cancer Other Than Melanoma 3,4
Most cancer registries do not collect data on non-melanoma skin cancers. It is difficult to track these cancers. Data are often not recorded because, in general, skin cancer other than melanoma is easily diagnosed and treated in the doctor’s office.
Therefore, non-melanoma skin cancer statistics, including survival statistics, are based on data collected by the provinces. Survival statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer are general estimates that should be interpreted with caution. Because they are based on the experience of groups of people, they do not predict the chances of survival of a particular person.
There are many different methods for evaluating and recording cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain skin cancer statistics other than melanoma and what they mean to you.
Relative Survival 3,4
Relative survival is used to determine the probability that a person with cancer to be alive after diagnosis compared to people who are in the general population and do not have cancer, but who have similar characteristics, like age and sex.
The 5-year relative survival statistics for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancer are estimated to be 100% and 95% respectively. Thus, survival for most skin cancers other than melanoma is excellent. This means that, on average, all people who are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma are likely to live at least 5 years after their diagnosis as people in the general population. The relative survival for squamous cell carcinoma is slightly lower at 95%.
Factors that affect nonmelanoma skin cancer survival other than include:
- Rate of development (whether slow or rapid)
- Whether detected and treated at an early stage (the prognosis highly depends on this factor – generally nonmelanoma skin cancers are diagnosed early)
- Availability of different effective treatments for nonmelanoma skin cancers
The reasons behind the good prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, rarely spreads to other parts of the body
- Squamous cell carcinoma is unlikely to reappear after treatment
Factors On Which Survival Of The Patient Depends
Discuss your prognosis with your doctor. The prognosis is based on many factors including:
- How cancer responds to treatment
- The grade of cancer
- The location of the cancer
- The size of the cancer
- The treatments options availed
- The type of cancer
- Your health history
- Kumar AB, Al-Qubaisy Y, França K. Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer. Advances in Integrative Dermatology. 2019:257-269.
- Queen L. Skin Cancer: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment. 2017.
- Eisemann N, Jansen L, Castro F, et al. Survival with nonmelanoma skin cancer in Germany. British Journal of Dermatology. 2016;174(4):778-785.
- Rembielak A, Ajithkumar T. Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer–An Underestimated Global Health Threat? Clinical Oncology. 2019;31(11):735-737.