More than seven million Europeans have skin cancer

More than seven million Europeans have skin cancer – despite it being the most preventable cancer, according to a survey published today.

Results of a new European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) survey presented at the EADV’s Spring Symposium reveal that a mole check or skin cancer screening was the main reason for patients consulting a dermatologist over the past 12 months.

The findings from the EADV’s Burden of Skin Disease (BOSD) survey of 44,689 adults from 27 countries found that 22.3% of appointments were made with a skin specialist to check a mole or lesion.

Of those surveyed, 0.6% reported a diagnosis of melanoma.

Professor Marie-Aleth Richard, of the University Hospital of La Timone, Marseilles, and the EADV Board Member leading the survey said the results indicate the need for an “expansion in skin cancer education across Europe to help the population make safer skin choices”.

She added that the survey findings “demonstrate the need for action to be taken to prevent skin cancer, which has a good prognosis if caught early but is perceived by the population as a serious and life-threatening condition”.

“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,” said Prof Richard.

“This should be complementary to an adequate policy and regulatory framework to reduce the incidence of skin cancer and prevent it becoming a significant challenge to health systems.”

While almost half of patients said there was a negative impact on their personal life, almost three in five said their diagnosis had had an impact on their professional life, with a change in working hours or altering professional activity. Just over 22% said they did not get a hoped-for job, while 31.3% refused a professional offer.

Just over 52% of respondents said they would trust dermatologists to treat them over a general practitioner or other health care professional.

Prof Richard said this demonstrated that dermatologists had an important role to play in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers as well as in prevention and education of the disease.

The largest percentage of patients who went to a dermatologist first were in Italy at 53%, while it was lowest in the UK at 11.9%.

“As recognised experts for the management of skin cancers, 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,” says Prof Alexander Stratigos, President of the EADV.

“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.”

Richard M-A et al. The Burden of Skin Diseases [BOSD] in Europe: Preliminary results about skin cancers diagnosis and care pathway. Abstract no 353 presented at EADV Spring Symposium 2022.


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