Investigating work-related neoplasia associated with solar radiation

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Abstract

Background

Both solar and non-solar exposures associated with occupation and work tasks have been reported as skin carcinogens. In the UK, there are well-established surveillance schemes providing relevant information, including when exposures took place, occupation, location of work and dates of symptom onset and diagnosis.

Aims

To add to the evidence on work-related skin neoplasia, including causal agents, geographical exposure and time lag between exposure and diagnosis.

Methods

This study investigated incident case reports of occupational skin disease originating from clinical specialists in dermatology reporting to a UK-wide surveillance scheme (EPIDERM) by analysing case reports of skin neoplasia from 1996 to 2012 in terms of diagnosis, employment, suspected causal agent and symptom onset.

Results

The suspected causal agent was ‘sun/sunlight/ultraviolet light’ in 99% of the reported work-related skin neoplasia cases. Most cases reported (91%) were in males, and the majority (62%) were aged over 65 at the time of reporting. More detailed information on exposure was available for 42% of the cases, with the median time from exposure to symptom onset ranging from 44 (melanoma) to 57 (squamous cell carcinoma) years. Irrespective of diagnostic category, the median duration of exposure to ‘sun/sunlight/ultraviolet light’ appeared longer where exposures occurred in the UK (range 39–51 years) rather than outside the UK (range 2.5–6.5 years).

Conclusions

It is important to provide effective information about skin protection to workers exposed to solar radiation, especially to outdoor workers based outside the UK.

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