As many as seven million Europeans are estimated to have skin cancer, despite it being the most preventable version of the disease.
Results from a new European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) survey show that 1.71% of the adult European general population reported having skin cancer.
The survey data also show that a mole check or skin cancer screening was the main reason for patients consulting a dermatologist over the past 12 months, with over a fifth (22.3%) of appointments made with a skin specialist being to check a mole or lesion.
“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 Marie-Aleth Richard, Professor at the University Hospital of La Timone in Marseilles, France.
“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.”
Dermatologists, however, were recognised by over half of those surveyed as the experts on skin cancer, with 52.73% saying they would trust a skin professional to treat them over a general practitioner or other health care professional.
The type of doctor consulted in the case of skin cancer varied by country, with the largest percentage of patients who called on a dermatologist in the first instance found in Italy (53%), France (47.4%) and Spain (44.8%).
The lowest proportion reported was the UK, where only 11.9% of patients initially went to a dermatologist followed by Poland at 13.5%.
“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,” said 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.”