BACKGROUND: The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) has increased in recent decades, both in Sweden and worldwide. The aim of this study was to investigate the development of SCC over time (1970-2007) in the western part of Sweden (WS), with emphasis on the incidence trends on the coast and in the inland areas. METHODS: Cancer data on SCC for different subareas in WS were obtained from the Swedish Cancer Registry. The incidence standardized for the Swedish population in 2000 was analyzed. The incidence trends were estimated and compared using regression analysis. RESULTS: The incidence was significantly higher in the coastal areas. The incidence rate in 2007 was higher for men than for women, whereas the average growth of the incidence was higher among women. CONCLUSION: This study shows that another important aspect regarding sun exposure, apart from latitude, is whether an area lies in the inland or on the coast. The higher sun exposure on the coast is associated with higher incidence of SCC. Preventive actions are needed; and perhaps extra information should be given to people living on the coast, who have a higher sun exposure.