Causes, symptoms, and prevention of skin cancer

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Published: 23 Sep 2016
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Dr Veronique Del Marmol - Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Dr Marmol meets with ecancertv at WCCS 2016 to discuss the outcomes of the Euro Melanoma campaign to raise public awareness of the causes, symptoms, and prevention of skin cancer.

Looking at data gathered from participating European countries regarding sun-bed use over the years, she describes an increased awareness and attendance of melanoma screening.

In comparison to attitudes towards other behaviours associated with increased risk of disease, specifically smoking, Dr Marmol highlights the ongoing need for wider engagement with preventative measures.

ecancer's filming at WCCS 2016 has been kindly supported by Amgen through the ECMS Foundation. ecancer is editorially independent and there is no influence over content.


WCCS 2016

Causes, symptoms, and prevention of skin cancer

Dr Veronique Del Marmol - Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

I was speaking about the Euro Melanoma campaign. It’s a campaign that we organised since now more than fifteen years and the idea is to provide information about skin cancer prevention and early diagnosis in all Europe. I am coordinating this campaign just to give the material to all the countries to be able to organise locally a campaign. Every year we have a new campaign and we try to have a common communication but also strong communication, quite new, modern, just to give information about this skin cancer prevention.

What results have you found?

It’s not always easy, the success is given certainly by the media reaction that we have after a campaign. In fact, we see after that people are coming more frequently to be screened and are more concerned about skin cancer.

What countries respond well to these types of campaigns?

The northern countries are certainly the ones who are responding the best also because we are more able to evaluate the impact also with the number of the melanoma that we diagnose. In fact we are working in more than thirty countries and in some of the countries it’s difficult to get all of the results to evaluate really. We get better results coming from the northern countries.

Have you been able to influence people’s behaviours towards prevention?

It’s very difficult to influence behaviour. Certainly the acting on primary prevention is certainly the most difficult aspect of the prevention but we act certainly on the fact that people are coming more frequently to be screened and check their mole and they have the knowledge about skin cancer. As you know, skin cancer can be seen, it’s visible, it’s easy to discern the risk factors and for that reason it’s easy to communicate with the public. I think it’s an ideal cancer to be in a campaign.

What are your thoughts on skin cancer incidence in Australia?

They have the most experience because they have the highest incidence. A lot of people will get skin cancer in Australia so they are very much concerned about that. Indeed, they get now results where they see a decrease in the number of melanoma since a few years so this is a very important goal that they could reach with their campaign.

What are your thoughts on sunbed usage?

Sunbed use is really a concern because we go to the sun also during the holiday and this is associated with relaxing and all the familial events but sunbeds by themselves provoke skin cancer without any use of being exposed artificially. It’s a main concern because in Europe we have a huge prevention of use of sunbeds and we realised in some of the countries, and I am from Belgium, nearly 40% of young females of less than 35 years are using sun beds so it’s a real concern. We have some legislation so it’s banned under the age of eighteen and we restrict it to people who are not fair-skinned but still it’s really a concern. It’s more than Belgium, it’s certainly the northern countries but also Hungary and we see also, for example, Spain and Italy. So it’s not only related to the northern latitude so this is a concern because we add to the sunshine exposure something which is absolutely not useful.

We know that in fact when we are exposed to UV it can induce the synthesis of endorphins at the same time so in fact some people are really getting addicted to sunbeds. This is a small group of people but still this is a main concern about prevention of skin cancer.