Over seven million Europeans are estimated to have skin cancer despite the majority of these cases being preventable, a new survey has revealed.
According to the findings from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), 1.71% of the adult European general population has skin cancer – equating to more than 7.3 million people.
Almost 45,000 people in 27 countries took part in the EADV’s ‘Burden of Skin Disease’ survey.
Skin cancer is considered the most preventable type of cancer since most cases are caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Leading dermatologists with the EADV said that these findings highlight the need for an “expansion in skin cancer education across Europe to help the population make safer skin choices”.
“Skin cancer is part of the 40% of cancers that are preventable and whose incidence we could considerably reduce if we provided more consistent and widespread education to the population.
“The survey underscores the need for improved understanding, education and awareness about skin cancer and implementing evidence-based interventions as part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan,” commented EADV board member, Prof Marie-Aleth Richard, who led the survey.
Some 47% of people diagnosed with skin cancer said they felt “moderately or extremely anxious and depressed”, with anxiety and fear about surgical scars, death and metastasis having the biggest impact on quality of life.
Almost half of patients also said there was a negative impact on their personal life, while almost three in five said they were impacted in their professional life.
Dermatologists were recognised by over half of those surveyed as the experts on skin cancer, with 53% of respondents stating that they would trust a skin professional to treat them over a GP or other healthcare professional.
Prof Richard said that this “demonstrates the important role dermatologists play in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, as well as the role they can play in prevention and education of the disease”.
According to EADV president, Prof Alexander Stratigos, dermatologists “must play a central role in public health strategies for beating cancer and in educating the general public, media, stakeholders and decision makers about skin diseases, including cancer”.
“These include promoting the protection of children and teenagers to reduce the risk of skin cancers developing in later life, implementing UV protection measures for outdoor workers and the regulation of sunbeds as medical devices, not consumer products,” he said.
The results of the survey were presented at the EADV’s Spring Symposium 2022 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.