May 16, 2023
Skin cancer (or cutaneous cancer) is one of the most preventable types of cancer because the risk factors are well established. In addition, its onset and development are usually visible at an early stage, and it can be detected by self-examination. However, the global worldwide incidence of skin cancer continues to rise. Campaigns have therefore been implemented to raise awareness among the general population and better prevent this type of cancer.
The different types of skin cancer
There are several types of skin cancer. The five main types of lesions are:
- Actinic keratosis
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Merkel cell carcinoma
Find information on the different types of skin cancer and photos of typical lesions on this dedicated page: https://www.euromelanoma.eu/en-gb/learn-about-skin-cancer/types-of-skin-cancer.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Every year in May, a global campaign is conducted to raise awareness of skin cancer by providing information to the general public about skin cancer prevention and early detection, and by offering free screening.
Euromelanoma was created in 1999 by six Belgian dermatologists. This pan-European campaign aims to have a public, scientific, and political impact to:
- Raise awareness and educate the general public about skin cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment,
- Share knowledge and best practices with the scientific community,
- Ensure that skin cancer treatments are readily available via healthcare systems and that their importance is recognized by policy makers.
To date, 39 countries – including countries located beyond the geographical frontiers of Europe, such as Canada – have joined the campaign.
Although the focus of the campaign is always to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention and early detection, a new theme is developed every year and campaign kits are created in several languages. The slogan of the 2023 Euromelanoma campaign is: “Do you use protection? There are easier ways to stay safe in the sun.”
Skin cancer prevention
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer. It is therefore very important to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing, by using suncreens or by staying in the shade, especially during the middle of the day when UV radiation levels peak (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the summer, depending on location).
Many health agencies around the world recommended avoiding the use of sunbeds. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has recommended that the use of artificial UV for cosmetic purposes should be banned because of the proven risk of skin cancer. In France, the sale of sunbeds to individual consumers has been prohibited since the January 26, 2016; sunbed use is still allowed with stricter regulations. In the United Kingdom, the Sunbeds (Regulations) Act 2010 banned the use of sunbeds on commercial premises by people under 18 years of age. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued advice to policy makers to help manage the health risks associated with using artificial tanning devices.
You can find easy ways to protect your skin in the educational materials published by Euromelanoma as part of its 2023 campaign.
Various campaigns have also been initiated to raise awareness of sun safety among children, including the SunWise program introduced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S EPA), and the introduction in 2020 of mandatory sun safety education for all primary school children in England.
Euromelanoma have also produced an activity book on theme of sun protection for children aged 5 to 10 years. It can be downloaded for free here.
Skin cancer screening
When diagnosed at an early stage, skin cancer can be cured. Therefore, screening is very important!
In addition to annual consultations with a dermatologist, self-examination is crucial for early detection, especially if you are “at risk”.
As part of its 2023 campaign, Euromelanoma has also created a leaflet with images of the main types of suspicious skin lesions. The leaflet also contains instructions on how to perform self-examinations (“How to check your skin“), and information about the signs of melanoma (“The ABCDE rule”). Melanoma is the least common, but also the most dangerous, form of skin cancer.
The expertise of Santé Active Edition – Synergy Pharm
Santé Active Edition – Synergy Pharm has been involved in writing and coordinating the publication of several scientific articles, including 11 reviews that have been published in special issues dedicated to skin cancer (including prevention, screening and treatment) and the dermotoxicity of anti-cancer treatments:
As we mentioned in our news update about this peer-reviewed journal supplement dedicated to skin cancer, progress has been made in recent decades, both in terms of prevention (public awareness, and photoprotection) and early diagnosis. One of the 11 articles mentioned above is devoted to Euromelanoma; detailing the history (including the posters and slogans of the previous annual campaigns) and achievements of the campaign so far, and introducing new projects initiated by Euromeloma to continue the fight against skin cancer.