Many skin cancers can be prevented by protecting yourself from UV rays. However, many people still suffer from sunburn in Belgium, both adults and children. What are we doing wrong?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide. The main risks are an aging population, thinning of the ozone layer and, above all, unprotected exposure to the sun due to the increased popularity of cheap sunny holidays and the use of tanning beds during the 1990s.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide. The main risks are an aging population, a thinning of the ozone layer and, above all, unprotected exposure to the sun due to the increased popularity of cheap solar holidays and the use of sunbeds during the 1990s. Dr. Even Liev Bruches, MD, a dermatologist at UZ Gent, describes the figures for Belgium as “shocking”: “About 40 percent of all cancers detected today in our country are some form of skin cancer. Internationally, we are thus sixth in the Ranking 1 in 5 people will experience skin cancer before the age of 75. As life expectancy continues to rise, we are faced with the huge challenge of increasing the number of patients aged 80 or over. It has increased sharply in Belgium over the past two decades and is still The number of diagnoses nearly doubles every ten years, and by 2030 a 77 percent increase in all skin cancers is projected compared to 2019. “These patients must be followed for life and this means a huge cost to society,” Bruches says. 2014, the economic cost of treating skin cancer for the Belgian health economy was more than 100 million, and in 2034 the cost will not be less than 150 million per year. This is a cumulative cost of 3.5 billion euros, the Cancer Foundation talks about a real epidemic of skin cancer and calls on the government to support a national action plan Include Prevention, detection and treatment to be prepared for these increasing numbers. The current increase can no longer be prevented, but it is possible to reduce it. The fewer cases of skin cancer, the lower the human and financial costs. The survival rate for skin cancer has increased dramatically in recent years thanks to better treatments and increasingly early detection, but the latter is under pressure. Waiting lists for a consultation with a dermatologist are getting longer, which increases the risk of a late diagnosis. This is why the Cancer Control Foundation emphasizes the distinction between low-risk and high-risk patients. 40% of the Belgian population is screened annually, but there are still many low-risk people among them. There is a lot to be gained from prevention. But don’t we know right now that it’s important to protect ourselves well from UV rays from the sun and tanning beds? “Prevention measures are generally known among the Belgian population, but this does not mean that they are applied,” says Brigitte Bonin, an UV expert at the Cancer Foundation. “Knowledge does not always lead to the desired behaviour. Compare it to smoking, which we also know is very harmful. That, 20 percent of the population still smokes.An important indicator of the risk of developing skin cancer is how often people burn.There we see that a large percentage of people still suffer from sunburn.Almost 10 percent of Belgians admit that they have been sunburned in the past 12 months.Children also still get burned more often.Whereas frequent sunburns in childhood have a significant impact on the risk of skin cancer in later life.A modern UV screen, which shows We run it every two years with a representative sample, that a quarter of children have had a minor burn in the past year and 19 percent have had severe burns. People also realize very little that even a mild sunburn can permanently damage the skin.” Those between 16 and 24 years old are less aware of prevention measures. This is a worrying development, as the number of young people in that group who have had a serious sunburn in the past year has increased very sharply. “In Belgium, unlike the United States, for example, these are very well monitored and the sun creams we use are safe,” Bonin reassures. You can always use mineral creams, but they don’t spread easily. On the contrary, there is a risk that people will abandon sunscreen due to their concern about endocrine disorders, and this is not a good idea at all. Professor Brushes agrees: “So far it has not been proven that sun creams have harmful effects, while they do offer benefits for preventing skin cancer. ”Although we can’t rely 100 percent on sunscreens to protect us from UV rays, because they sometimes give us a false sense of security,” Bonin says. People don’t always rub themselves well and there are still some persistent misconceptions. The main ones are that pre-tanning on a sunbed ensures that you burn less quickly and that a sun cream with a high SPF allows you to stay in the sun longer. People also think an SPF of 50 is the true SPF, when in practice they only apply a third of what is actually necessary. As a result, the sun protection factor (SPF) is 10. “In fact, smudging is one of the least effective measures against skin cancer, although this tip is the most well-known,” Bonin notes. “It is best to avoid the occasional sun with strong sunshine, two hours before and two hours in the afternoon, wear a hat and sunglasses, wear UV-resistant clothing, and wear a children’s T-shirt while swimming. Let’s attract. Sunscreen instead acts as a complement to all of these measures. But avoidance measures were implemented to a lesser extent in 2021 than in 2019. “There is also still some work to be done on awareness of the UV index. This index refers to the strength of the sun, and the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight that It hits the ground The Cancer Foundation recommends protective measures of UV index 3 or higher In Belgium that was roughly between April and October But only 64 percent of Belgians take this UV index into account to protect their skin from the sun However, the UV index is not sacred. Sun protection is a very individual thing. People with fair skin with a UV index of 3 burn after 15 minutes in the sun, but darker skin types can handle a higher UV index. Brushes: “The latter are at risk of vitamin D deficiency if they take UV-protective measures too quickly,” but cautions that supplementing vitamin D in the event of a potential deficiency is also not a solution. “There is a lot of debate about the vitamin. (D) this days. But now we have more and more ideas and studies that indicate that the deficiency does not necessarily need to be supplemented. This is of course the case for people who have stopped going out at all, such as residents of nursing homes. ‘To inform residents of the risks of skin cancer, the Cancer Control Foundation is launching a new national campaign on May 9. This will also be accompanied by the launch of an application, which will allow users to view the UV index at any time of the day, anywhere in the world, and thus know the recommended actions.