Bronze, Blisters & Skin Cancer

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma patients tell researchers about their sun exposure

(RxWiki News) Blistering sunburns from vacations to the coast may not result in the same type of non-melanoma skin cancer as sun exposure like lifeguarding every summer.

A recent study surveyed 703 Florida residents about their lifetime sun exposure. The type of sun exposure, blistering burns, age of burns and long-term exposure patterns may be linked to particular skin cancers.

"Use shade, sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors."

Dana Rollison, PhD, vice president and chief health information officer at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, was the senior author of this study. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are non-melanoma types of skin cancer.

According to the researchers, ultraviolet radiation, also know as “UV rays”, is the greatest risk factor for non-melanoma skin cancer.

Dr. Rollison said in a press relsease, “There are more than a million new cases of BCCs and SCCs diagnosed in the United States each year.”

“While mortality associated with non-melanoma skin cancers, such as BCCs and SCCs, is low…treatment costs are high.”

For the study, 703 residents of sunny Florida were questioned about their lifetime sunlight exposure. Researchers were testing patterns of sunlight exposure in relation to non-melanoma skin cancer.

The pattern groups were:

  • Continuous exposure to sunlight, such as with an outdoor job
  • Intermittent exposure to sunlight, such as heading to the beach for vacation
  • Exposure during adulthood
  • Exposure during childhood

Of the 703 participants, 218 had BCC, 169 had SCC and 316 did not have any skin cancers.

Results of the surveys revealed both blistering sunburns, an indication of intermittent exposure, and working in the sun, which would provide continuous exposure, were risk factors for BCC and SCC.

People exposed to sunlight at a younger age were more likely to develop SCC over BCC.

Researchers reasoned that BCC might be more related to intermittent periods of sunlight exposure, while SCC and BCC appeared linked to continuous sunlight exposure.

Authors recommended further studies to better understand the relationship between patterns of sunlight exposure and non-melanoma skin cancer.

This study was published in September in BioMed Central. Funding for the research was provided by a grant from Florida’s James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
November 9, 2012