Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is by far the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia but, unlike other invasive cancers, is not reportable by law to cancer registries. As a result, incidence and prevalence statistics are not routinely available. This report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and Cancer Australia is intended to fill some of the gaps in data availability for NMSC by analysing the impact of these cancers on general practitioner (GP) workload, hospital inpatient admissions and mortality.

GP–patient encounters are tabulated by age and sex, and over time. Hospital inpatient admissions and mortality are examined by sex, age, country of birth, remoteness of residential area and socioeconomic status.

Key findings

  • It is projected that in 2008 around 434,000 persons (253,000 males, 180,000 females) will be diagnosed with one or more NMSC in Australia.
  • In 2006, 410 persons (276 males, 134 females) died from NMSC in Australia (ABS, 2008).

GP–patient encounters

  • GP encounters for NMSC increased by 14% from an estimated 836,500 per year between April 1998 and March 2000 to an estimated 950,000 per year between April 2005 and March 2007.
  • The proportion of GP encounters for males between April 2002 and March 2007 relating to NMSC was almost twice that of females. This was consistent for the two most common NMSC types—basal cell carcinomas (0.7% of all GP encounters for males, 0.4% for females) and squamous cell carcinomas (0.4% of all GP encounters for males, 0.2% for females).

Hospital inpatient admissions

  • Inpatient separations where the principal diagnosis was NMSC more than doubled between 1993–94 and 2006–07, from 35,833 to 79,792. This represents a 60% increase in separations from 224 to 359 per 100,000. The increase for females (68%) was much greater than the increase for males (53%).
  • In 2006–07 males accounted for 47,247 separations (471 per 100,000) compared with 32,545 (272 per 100,000) for females.
  • Hospitalisation was significantly higher for Australian-born patients than for overseas born patients, for people living in Inner Regional areas than for those in other areas, and for people living in high socioeconomic status areas than for those living in low socioeconomic areas.


  • Mortality from NMSC was fairly stable from 1998 to 2005 with an average of 382 deaths per year (approximately 3 per 100,000 for males and 1 per 100,000 for females).
  • During 2002–2005, 83% of NMSC deaths were Australian-born people, and 9% were people born in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • NMSC mortality rates were significantly higher in Outer Regional areas and significantly lower in the most socioeconomically advantaged areas.