The impact of skin cancer in Ireland
Date of publishing: 15th May 2018
Impact of Skin Cancer in Ireland
Source: Pfizer Ireland
Skin Cancer in Ireland
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, according to the latest data.1 There are two main categories; non-melanoma skin cancer (comprising of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) and malignant melanoma1.
Cutaneous melanoma is the most life-threatening form of skin cancer and its incidence and mortality keeps on rising with the highest increase among men aged older than 55 years and women of all ages3.
Skin cancer, in most cases is preventable and early detection leads to better outcomes. The vast majority of these cancers care caused by overexposure to UV radiation, mainly from sunlight, although UV radiation from artificial sources (e.g sunbeds) can also cause skin cancer1.
Skin cancer treatments can be delivered by Specialists, GPs or pharmacists. In addition, there are many bodies, such as the Irish Skin Foundation, that offer helpful resources on the prevention and potential effects of skin cancer.
The latest available statistics indicate that more than 10,000 people in Ireland have developed NMSC, and that more than 1,000 have developed melanoma.1
Skin cancer: Who is at risk?
Irish skin is more at risk for skin cancer, which is one of the most common forms of cancer in Ireland. According to the Irish Cancer Society, we have over 10,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed in this country every year6. Almost anyone may be at risk of skin cancer, although men over 55 and women of any age may be at a higher risk of melanoma-related deaths compared to other groups.3
In addition, a familial or personal history of skin cancer may increase an individual’s risk of developing this condition.1
A recent Irish study investigated skin cancer risks in 163 golfers playing in the Munster region, 84% of whom were men and had an average age of approximately 65, found that 9.8% of the total group had developed skin cancers, half of which were melanomas.2
Skin cancer prevention
The Irish Skin Foundation recommends avoiding sun exposure, the use of high-SPF products and vigilance for abnormal growths to avoid skin cancer.1 The study on Irish golfers reported that their skin-cancer awareness was superior to that of the general population, although 44% used skincare products with an SPF of 30 or less.2 On the other hand, 85% of all the golfers used products with an SPF rating.2 59% of this group were also aware that developing melanoma could increase their risk of death, and 70% acknowledged the importance of early detection in melanoma treatment.2
Skin cancer detection
The Irish Skin Foundation recommends the ABCDE method of possible melanoma evaluation.1 This acronym intimates assessing possible lesions in terms of their asymmetry; the regularity of their borders; their colour and any variation in it; their diameter (a length of 6mm or more is taken as an indicator of probable melanoma) and their evolution (i.e. tracking changes in lesion appearance over time).1
On the other hand, not all melanomas will exhibit any irregularities that can be picked up using the ABCDE method.1 `
A 2017 study, which involved gene-chip analysis of samples from patients with benign (14) and malignant (61) melanoma, indicated that genomics (the methylation of certain genes (particularly HOXA9 and PON3, which appeared to predict progression independent of tumour appearance in this case) may also be used to detect melanoma.3 This may be an interesting trend to watch for in the future.
Skin cancer treatments in Ireland
Treatment for NMSC is relatively conservative and includes options such as topical treatments; Moh’s technique or laser therapy.5 Alternatively, photodynamic therapy is another emerging option for NMSC in Ireland.5 More extensive or serious tumours may require radiotherapy or chemotherapy.5 Cutaneous melanomas can also be treated by GPs, using primary excision.4 Despite some concerns, up-to-date research indicates that this method is not less (or more) safe compared to secondary care.4 The type of treatment recommended may also depend on patient expectations and concerns about consequences such as visible scarring or other side effects.
Skin cancer is a common form of cancer in Ireland, and may be a serious medical concern in some cases.1,3 Doctors and pharmacists are in a good position to offer advice and treatment for this condition.5 People who are outside for prolonged periods during the day may be at particular risk of skin cancer.2 However, it seems that public awareness campaigns are having at least some effect in addressing this.2
- ISF. Skin Cancer. 2017; https://irishskin.ie/melanoma-skin-cancer/. Date Accessed 27 April 2018
- McCarthy S, Paul L, O'Connell M. Skin Cancer Awareness Amongst Irish Golfers. Irish medical journal. 2017;110(7):620.
- Wouters J, Vizoso M, Martinez-Cardus A, et al. Comprehensive DNA methylation study identifies novel progression-related and prognostic markers for cutaneous melanoma. BMC Medicine. 2017;15:101.
- Murchie P, Amalraj Raja E, Brewster DH, Iversen L, Lee AJ. Is initial excision of cutaneous melanoma by General Practitioners (GPs) dangerous? Comparing patient outcomes following excision of melanoma by GPs or in hospital using national datasets and meta-analysis. European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990). 2017;86:373-384.
- ICS. Treatment for skin cancer. 2017; https://www.cancer.ie/cancer- information/skin-cancer/treatment#sthash.ZxE854CD.dpbs.
- https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/15-facts-about- irish-skin-31401847.html. Date Accessed 8th May 2018
Da te of Preparation: May 2018