Deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer in Western Australia
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Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is common, slow growing, and rarely metastasizes. However, there are still nearly 400 deaths from NMSC in Australia annually. We aimed to investigate the accuracy of NMSC death coding and to describe the characteristics of these deaths and the potential for prevention.
Histology reports for all deaths coded as NMSC (ICD-10 C44.0-C44.9) by the Western Australian Cancer Registry for the years 1996–2005 were reviewed for type of cancer, body site (primary tumor and metastases), and level of available documentation.
Of 368 deaths recorded as being due to NMSC only 3 were found to be miscoded. An additional 53 deaths contained inadequate information to confirm NMSC as the cause of death. Of the confirmed cases, 219 were due to squamous cell carcinoma, 53 to Merkel cell carcinomas, and 40 to other skin cancers. Cases were mainly males and were elderly. Most of the primary squamous and Merkel cell carcinomas were in areas of maximum sun exposure (face, ears, and hands, and scalp in males).
Misclassification of NMSC deaths in WA was minimal. The majority of NMSC deaths were due to squamous cell carcinomas; had primary sites associated with significant sun exposure; and occurred in older men.
KeywordsNon-melanoma skin cancer Sun exposure Mortality Second cancer Squamous cell carcinoma Merkel cell carcinoma
Lin Fritschi is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowship. We would like to thank the staff of the Western Australian Cancer Registry for considerable assistance in the identification and classification of cases.
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