Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma): Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with these types of non-melanoma skin cancer each year. You will read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Because non-melanoma skin cancer/keratinocyte carcinoma is so common and often curable, statistics are estimated. This is because individual cases are not usually reported to cancer registries.

It is estimated that more than 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer each year. Basal cell carcinoma is far more common than squamous cell carcinoma. About 80% of non-melanoma skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma.  

About 2,000 people die from basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer each year. About 9,730 people die from melanoma each year. For other, less common types of skin cancer, about 3,860 people die every year.

More than 1,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with Merkel cell cancer each year. Almost all people diagnosed with the disease are older than 50, and 90% of cases occur in white people. The 5-year survival rate of people with Merkel cell cancer is about 60%. It is much higher if the cancer is found early, before it has spread to the lymph nodes or distant parts of the body. Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection.

It is important to remember that statistics for non-melanoma skin cancers are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.