Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), but not basal cell carcinomas (BCC), were associated with a risk of death from any cause that was 25% higher than that seen in the general population, based on a systematic literature review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (2017. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.11.026).
“Because these tumors often occur in the same patients and are both often caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, patients with BCC and SCC are often grouped together,” Mackenzie R. Wehner, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and co-authors wrote. “Our data contributes to the argument that the carcinogenesis of these tumors and long-term outcomes for patients with these tumors may be distinct.”
Patients with SCC “may need additional education and age-appropriate screening to prevent deaths from major diseases,” the authors concluded.
Dr. Wehner and colleagues systematically searched the medical literature and found four studies encompassing a total of 175,849 patients with SCC and 464,230 patients with BCC.
Relative to the general population, mortality for those with an SCC was 1.25 (95% CI, 1.17-1.32). At 0.92 (95% CI 0.83-1.02), there was no significant difference in mortality for patients with a BCC.
Collectively and individually, the studies found a statistically significant increased relative mortality for having SCC.
There are clear distinctions between BCC and SCC with regard to histology, pathophysiology, survival, and other parameters, the study authors said. “While many patients get both BCC and SCC, future research should take into account that these cancers may have different long-term risks and outcomes.”