Incidence of skin cancer in Spain has increased 15-fold in 50 years

Image of a common skin cancer cell. Credit: Wikipedia - John Hendrix public domain.

Experts claim the incidence of skin cancer has multiplied by 15 in the last 50 years in Spain.

In celebration of Skin Cancer Prevention Day, this Monday, June 13, the dermatology department of the Clinical Hospital in Malaga joined in a series of initiatives in which professionals, patients, relatives, and representatives of associations have participated, as reported by malagahoy.es.

According to these skin experts, the incidence of skin cancer has multiplied by 15 in the last 50 years due to low awareness of this disease and little prevention when exposed to the sun. In the European Union, 36,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, causing 12,000 deaths. In Spain, 2,000 new patients are registered each year, with more than 700 deaths.

Enrique Herrera, a dermatologist, and head of the department at Virgen de la Victoria University Hospital facility explained: “skin cancer is a malignant disease caused by the uncontrolled division and growth of the cells that form it, with the ability to invade surrounding healthy tissues and structures, and in some cases, to other distant organs”.

He continued. “Although talking about skin cancer is generalised, there are several types among which melanomas and non-melanoma skin carcinomas such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma clearly stand out”.

In both types, explained the expert: “the main risk factor involved in their appearance is solar radiation, especially type B (UVB), and type A (UVA)”. In the skin, these radiations are capable of producing mutations in the genetic material (DNA) of the cells that make up the epidermis, and prevent its repair, thus initiating the process of carcinogenesis or the formation of a cancer”.

Prevention is still the best way to avoid skin tumours, early diagnosis allows up to 95 per cent of cases to be cured, so it is essential to carry out periodic evaluations to detect any skin alteration, he assured.

This Monday, medical and nursing staff from the dermatology unit carried out tests with a dermatoscopy team on people who showed an interest in this topic. They conducted non-invasive tests for the diagnosis of skin lesions, especially pigmented ones, a process which is normally carried out in the consultations of this unit.

Carlos Bautista, the Andalucian Health and Families delegate attended the activity. Leaflets were distributed with preventive instructions to avoid skin injuries, and samples of some sun exposure products have been distributed. The experts also answered questions from those present.

With the arrival of hot weather, the beaches, swimming pools, and open spaces are filled with people sunbathing, and, although the Spanish have already begun to become aware of the importance of using sun protection, the incidence of skin cancer continues to increase.

The prognosis for skin cancer is generally very good they pointed out, with most patients cured. The exception is in cases of melanoma, a type of skin tumour with a much worse prognosis, as it frequently metastasises. Nine out of ten cases of sporadic development of melanoma are due to sun exposure and only 10 per cent to genetic factors.

Tips were given on how to avoid any form of skin cancer, including the regular use of sunscreen when sunbathing, and avoiding tanning sessions with UVA lamps. Attendees were also reminded that any outdoor activity such as cycling, walking, playing sports, activities in the garden, etc, can also affect the skin, so it is essential to apply photoprotection in all these everyday situations.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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