Comparing Skin Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates Among EU Countries

Skin cancer Comparing Skin Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates Among EU Countries
Comparing Skin Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates Among EU Countries

Comparing Skin Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates Among EU Countries


Skin cancer is a significant public health concern globally, with increasing incidence rates being observed in many countries. In the European Union (EU), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and its impact on individuals and healthcare systems is substantial. This article aims to compare the incidence and mortality rates of skin cancer among EU countries, shedding light on the variations in burden across the region.

The Scope of Skin Cancer in the EU

Skin cancer encompasses different types, including melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Melanoma is the most deadly form, while NMSC, which includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), accounts for the majority of cases. Both types of skin cancer are strongly associated with sun exposure, making prevention and early detection critical.

Incidence Rates

Incidence rates of skin cancer vary among EU countries due to a combination of factors, including genetics, latitude, climate, and cultural behaviors regarding sun exposure. Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have among the highest incidence rates of melanoma, likely influenced by their fair-skinned populations and increased sun exposure during vacations to sunnier destinations. Southern European countries, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, also demonstrate elevated rates due to their sunny climates.

According to Eurostat data, the incidence rate of melanoma in 2018 ranged from 106 cases per 100,000 population in Sweden to 6 cases per 100,000 population in Romania. These disparities reflect differences in skin cancer prevention measures, such as public awareness campaigns and access to healthcare services.

Non-melanoma skin cancer, particularly BCC, is more common than melanoma and displays higher incidence rates across the EU. The incidence of NMSC can reach up to 900 cases per 100,000 population in countries like Croatia and Slovenia, while countries like Latvia and Romania report rates closer to 200 cases per 100,000 population. However, it is important to note that due to variations in data collection methods, comparisons between countries may have limitations.

Mortality Rates

Despite melanoma being less frequent than NMSC, it poses a more substantial threat due to its higher mortality rate. Factors influencing mortality rates include cancer stage at diagnosis, access to treatment, and overall healthcare quality. The EU-wide standardized mortality rate for melanoma was approximately 3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2018.

Some countries in the EU have lower mortality rates for melanoma, such as Sweden and Finland, with rates below the EU average. In contrast, countries like Latvia and Romania experience higher mortality rates, with rates exceeding 5 deaths per 100,000 population. These variations can be attributed to differences in healthcare systems, awareness, and early detection practices.

Mortality rates for NMSC tend to be significantly lower than those for melanoma. However, mortality due to NMSC is not negligible. The EU-wide standardized mortality rate for NMSC ranges from 0.1 to 0.3 deaths per 100,000 population. The overall low mortality rates reflect the typically non-aggressive nature of NMSC, but access to appropriate treatment and follow-up care remains important to prevent complications.

Prevention and Early Detection Efforts

Given the impact of skin cancer on public health, EU countries have implemented various prevention and early detection strategies. These include:

1. Public Awareness Campaigns and Education

Countries like Australia and Germany have successfully implemented nationwide campaigns to raise public awareness about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the importance of early detection. These campaigns often emphasize the use of sun protection measures, such as wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing.

2. Increased Sun Protection Measures

Governments in countries with higher incidence rates have introduced regulations to ensure sun protection, such as providing shaded areas in public spaces and encouraging the use of sun-protective clothing in schools.

3. Regular Skin Cancer Screening

Screening programs, such as the German Skin Cancer Screening, aim to detect skin cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages. These programs involve regular check-ups and examinations by dermatologists for individuals at higher risk, including those with fair skin, a history of sunburns, and a family history of skin cancer.


Skin cancer is a significant health issue across the EU, with variations in incidence and mortality rates among member countries. Factors such as genetics, sun exposure, and healthcare accessibility contribute to these disparities. It is crucial for EU countries to continue implementing effective prevention and early detection strategies to reduce the burden of skin cancer. By increasing public awareness, promoting sun protection measures, and providing regular screenings, the EU can work towards lowering incidence and mortality rates, ultimately improving the overall health outcomes for its citizens.[2]

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