Non-melanoma skin cancer and quality of life in an Australian population

The Skin Cancer Index (SCI) was developed and validated in a US population with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), with high scores reflecting higher quality of life (QOL). The SCI correlates with other QOL outcomes, such as the DLQI 1. Here we assess an Australian cohort of patients with a history of NMSC.
We prospectively recruited consecutive patients attending a general dermatology clinic at The Skin Hospital, Westmead. Patients provided demographic information and completed the SCI. The study was approved by The University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee. Statistical analysis was performed using JMP® Statistical Discovery Software by SAS.
60 patients attended, mean age 69 years; 65% were females. 85% (45) had a previous BCC, 34% (18) had a previous SCC. Mean score was 59.6 on the emotional, 81.2 on the social and 74.7 on the appearance subscales with mean total SCI score 71.8. Those who considered their scars visible had a lower social (p = 0.0023) and total SCI score (p=0.0180). Those treated with surgery had a lower SCI sub-scores and total scores than participants treated by non-surgical means. Compared with the US population where this tool was first validated, our population reported a similar quality of life, which gives our Australian dataset face validity 2.
NMSC has a measurable impact upon QOL in Australian adults. Scarring derived from NMSC treatments impacts QOL significantly. This highlights the importance of offering non-surgical methods for the treatment of amenable skin cancers such as superficial BCC.

Dr. Charlotte Thomas

Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia/ St Vincent's Hospital Sydney