Outdoor workers are twice as likely to develop skin cancer

A new study has found that more than half of workers want more help from employers to protect themselves from the risk of sun exposure.

State of the Nation: non-melanoma skin cancer reveals that four in 10 UK adults are not at all confident about identifying the signs of skin cancer, and when presented with the four most common symptoms, less than a quarter (23%) were able to correctly identify them.

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer in the UK, with more than 152,000 new cases diagnosed every year – the equivalent of 416 every day. This is more than breast, prostate and lung cancers combined. By 2025 there are expected to be almost 400,000 NMSC diagnoses a year.

Outdoor workers, such as construction workers and farmers, are more than twice as likely to develop NMSC as those that work indoors, because of increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun.

Yet the survey of more than 3600 members of the public found that two thirds (64%) of employees who work outside for more than one hour per day do not get help from their employers to protect against skin cancer.

Commenting on the report, Sir Edward Leigh MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS) said: ‘As the health system continues to adapt to the exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important to ensure that the policies and systems are in place to help prevent, as far as possible, new cases of NMSC from arising – and to ensure that high-quality care is provided for the growing number of patients who need access to treatment and support.

‘Action needs to be taken across the system, from continuing efforts to improve sun safety and early symptom recognition through to ensuring that all NMSC patients are able to access the care they need, including help to deal with the considerable psychological impact of this condition.’