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Non-melanoma skin cancer

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Survival statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer

Survival statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person's chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer and what they mean to you.

Survival varies with each stage and type of non-melanoma skin cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for non-melanoma skin cancer.

  • Non-melanoma skin cancer grows slowly.
  • Generally, the earlier non-melanoma skin cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer is very responsive to treatment.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of non-melanoma skin cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of people who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. However, people may live much longer than 5 years.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) can usually be cured in its early stages. It is extremely rare for BCC to spread to other parts of the body. The overall 5-year survival rate for basal cell carcinoma is 95%. For metastatic BCC, the 5-year survival is 10%.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is also very treatable. The overall 5-year survival rate for SCC is 90%. However, if metastasis does occur, survival is quite poor. For metastatic SCC, the 5-year survival is 3–6%.

Questions about survival

People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • a person’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.


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