Press release_Skin cancer

Press release

For Immediate Release:

The dark side of the hottest summer in a century: ‘The high rate of skin cancer among outdoor workers can be expected to increase still further’

The sun is one of the most dangerous carcinogens, yet people who work outdoors are inadequately protected. 8,831 new cases of occupational skin cancer were reported in Germany in 2017, although Germany is not even one of the most sun-drenched regions of Europe. The majority of cases involve non-melanoma (“white”) skin cancer, and these are far from being as harmless as commonly assumed. White skin cancers are a form of chronic disease that generally requires far more than just a single intervention. The EADV Congress in Paris has opened today with an appeal from experts: “In our opinion, non-melanoma occupational skin cancer has already reached epidemic proportions that we can no longer ignore.” Paris, September 12, 2018 – The sun is one of the most dangerous carcinogens, yet people who work outdoors are inadequately protected. Since 2014, data on the UV exposure of outdoor workers (such as farmers, road workers, seasonal harvest workers, building workers, roofers, etc.) have been collected in Germany as part of the GENESIS-UV project – with alarming results. Sewer technicians’ exposure to sun amounted to 581 SED (standard erythemal doses), for example, and 494 in the case of façade construction workers [1]. The SED (‘standard erythemal dose’) has been developed as an erythemally weighted measure of radiant exposure. The SED is independent of skin type, and the WHO has set a daily limit of 130 SED [2]. It is now becoming apparent that this limit is routinely exceeded almost five-fold among outdoor workers in Germany, and yet Germany is not even one of the most sun-drenched regions of Europe. Nor do the figures relate to 2018 and its record-breaking summer, which also produced extremely high temperatures and much sun in Nordic climates, but rather to the previous, moderate summer. Recent statistics for skin cancer [3] show that exceeding the limit by a factor of five in a ‘normal summer’ is not without its consequences – 8,831 new cases of occupational skin cancer were reported in Germany in 2017. ‘A further increase in the future can be expected because of the sunniest summer in a century’, explains Professor Dr Swen Malte John, MD, Ph.D., Chairman Dept. of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine at the University of Osnabrueck (Germany), Chairperson of the EADV Media & PR Committee. The majority of cases involve non-melanoma (“white”) skin cancer, i.e. basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and actinic keratoses. Approximately 300,000 cases are registered per year in Germany. According to Professor John, these are far from being as harmless as commonly assumed. ‘These types of cancer, too, can form metastases and result in death. However, even if that is rarely the case, white skin cancer is a disease that places a severe burden on those affected.’ Basal cell carcinoma, which is classified only as ‘semi-malignant’ and the commonest form of skin cancer in Germany, at 180,000 new cases per year, can have serious consequences. ‘It often appears on the face. Although it spreads very slowly, tumor removal can involve disfiguring surgery if it affects deeper layers of tissue, or nasal bone. For that reason, it is essential to remove lesions as early as possible. Squamous cell carcinomas often occur in the ear region and on lips, where a partial resection is necessary in advanced stages. The burden of suffering for patients is then enormous, of course.’

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