Awareness, knowledge and attitudes to non-melanoma skin cancer and actinic keratosis among the general public

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BackgroundThe incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) has dramatically increased worldwide. In areas of high incidence this will place a significant burden on the health system.ObjectivesTo establish the awareness, knowledge and attitudes of the general public to NMSC and provide an overview on their level of understanding and knowledge of preventative measures.MethodsTwo thousand and one hundred Caucasian and Hispanic individuals, aged 40–75 years, from the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, the USA and Australia were randomly selected to participate in this market research survey. In a structured telephone interview lasting approximately 10 min, respondents answered questions on NMSC, specifically actinic keratosis (AK) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).ResultsOverall, 6% of respondents had been diagnosed with NMSC, of which the incidence was highest in Australia and the USA. The frequency of skin cancer detection examinations was also greater within these populations. Countries with a high incidence of NSMC had greater awareness of the condition, with more awareness of BCC than AK. The majority of respondents believed there was a correlation between skin cancer and sun exposure, however, a minority of respondents associated skin cancer with ‘moderate’ tanning. Overall, 86% of respondents claimed that they always took precautions against ultraviolet exposure when in the sun, but only 26% applied sunscreen most or all of the time when they were exposed to the sun for more than 1 h. In most of the countries, outside workers reported lower sunscreen use than other respondents.ConclusionNonmelanoma skin cancer awareness and prevention behaviors varied significantly among the countries studied. Improved population-specific documentation of skin cancer knowledge and prevention behaviors will facilitate the development and assessment of public health campaigns.

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