“In total, we still do not see any reduction in the number of skin cancer cases. However, we do find fewer among the young. This probably is due to better sun sense as among other things children and young people are more protected when they are out in the sun,” says researcher Trude Eid Robsahm at the Cancer Registry of Norway.
Text and photo: Børge Sildnes
Translation: Barbara Mortensen
Even though the development amongst young people is pointing in the right direction; there are trends among the older population, especially men, which are not pointing the same way.
“In general, the prognosis for skin cancer is better today because the illness is discovered earlier. We are more enlightened and go readily to the doctor for a check of suspicious moles. However, it seems that men wait longer before going to a doctor and therefore the illness is more serious when diagnosed,” says Eid Robsahm.
Other sources of vitamin D are possible
Vitamin D, which we get among other things from sunlight and food, may be positive in preventing the development of certain cancers.
“How strong this effect is however, is unknown. Sun ray exposure is a known risk factor for skin cancer. Moderate and sensible sun exposure is therefore recommended. Those who are in a risk group of having too low levels of vitamin D can supplement this need through food intake,” says Eid Robsahm.
Several types of skin cancer
Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. 569 men and 623 women got this illness in Norway in 2007. Over 80% of the cases in men were found in those over 50 years of age. The complimentary percentage for women was a little over 70 per cent.
Squamous cell carcinoma seldom spreads to other organs, but can also be a serious cancer type. This cancer is the cause of 40 deaths each year.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer with 6-7000 registered cases yearly. “Even though this is not a disease that causes death, the treatment is costly,” says Eid Robsahm.