GentleCure Blog

Can Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Kill You?

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If you’re facing a skin cancer diagnosis, you undoubtedly have many troubling questions running through your mind, most notably, “can non-melanoma skin cancer kill you?” Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, with over 3 million people in the United States diagnosed each year. Because it is the most common, it is highly treatable and often curable, with treatment options ranging from radiation, surgery, and more. Non-melanoma skin cancer is rarely fatal, especially when caught early and paired with effective treatment. 

What is Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer? 

The most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are: 

Knowing the differences between basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer can help you understand your treatment options, but both see extremely high success rates. 

Can You Die From Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer? 

It’s normal to be upset after receiving a cancer diagnosis, but statistics show that while you can die from non-melanoma skin cancer, it is highly unlikely. According to, non-melanoma skin cancer deaths have been declining over the past several years. Of the 5.4 million annually-diagnosed patients, only 2,000 pass from basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, with the five-year survival rate for basal cell near 99%. 

The low-fatality rate for non-melanoma skin cancer is due to: 

  • Slow growth: most non-melanoma skin cancers progress at a very slow rate, and rarely spread to other areas of the body. 
  • Easy detection: because these cancers are on the top-most layers of the skin, they are more easily found during regular screenings. 
  • Low relapse risk: after proper treatment, it is less likely these skin cancers will reappear once eradicated. 
  • Effective treatment options: skin cancer patients benefit from many treatment innovations, including surgery, topical therapies, and radiation therapies such as IG-SRT. 

What Factors Impact Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Survival?   

There are many factors that impact a patient’s survival rate, including:

  • General health history: your age, gender, race, and pre-existing conditions could all have an effect on your cancer’s progression. 
  • Where the cancer is located: some areas may be more difficult for you to detect changes in your skin’s appearance, such as your backside. Receiving yearly dermatological examinations is recommended. 
  • The size and grade of the cancer: early detection plays a big role in how far and deep the cancer is able to spread. 
  • How the cancer responds to treatment: with many treatment options available, it’s important to educate yourself on what will work best for your circumstances. Talk to your doctor for recommendations. 

Find Less Invasive Skin Cancer Treatments with GentleCure

Can non-melanoma skin cancer kill you? Your fatality risk is extremely low, especially with early detection. If you’ve received a non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosis and are looking for less-invasive treatment options, call 855-936-4411 to speak with our skin cancer specialists about Image Guided Superficial Radiotherapy, or IG-SRT. This safe, effective treatment can be used to treat your symptoms without cutting or scarring. Learn more about how it works.