Background Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is a growing public health problem among Caucasians, thus mortality data that may provide insight into the clinical course and foster our understanding of NMSC are important.
Objectives We examined total and cause-specific mortality among patients with NMSC registered in the Danish Cancer Registry from 1978 to 2001.
Methods A total of 82 837 patients with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and 13 453 patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) were followed through the National Death Registry for specific causes of death. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were computed based on mortality rates in the general population.
Results Among patients with BCC, we found a slightly reduced total mortality [SMR 0·97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·96–0·98] with decreased SMRs seen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes mellitus. The SMR for suicide was increased. Among patients with SCC, we found an increased total mortality (SMR 1·30, 95% CI 1·26–1·33) due primarily to excess deaths from cancers, COPD, CVD and infectious diseases.
Conclusions We found markedly different mortality patterns among patients with BCC and those with SCC, suggesting important differences in the clinical course of these patients.