Almirall S.A. (ALM), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on medical dermatology, presented today the results of a survey revealing that 85% of respondents are unaware of the existence of actinic keratosis (AK). This chronic skin condition can lead to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – the second most common form of skin cancer. The survey, conducted by Almirall with over 2,500 participants over the age or 35, aimed to understand the level of knowledge about AK and skin health habits within the general population of Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the US.
Almirall presented these findings as it launches its second annual AK Global Day campaign on 24th May, organized by the company and supported by leading skin cancer awareness group, Euromelanoma. The campaign aims to raise awareness of this condition and encourage people who have been exposed to UV radiation over the years to recognize AK lesions as a warning sign.
AK is one of the most common diagnoses made by dermatologists, with an estimated prevalence of 13.3% in the European population. However, with AK caused by cumulative UV exposure from either the sun or tanning beds, the older you are, the more likely you will have AK; cases rise to 25% and beyond in the over 50 years of age. Despite its high prevalence, this survey revealed that the majority of people (57.73%) don’t ever get their skin checked by a professional. Moreover, almost a third do not check their skin at least once a year to find signs of suspicious marks and lesions. These data vary depending on the country. In the case of the UK, more than 8 out of 10 respondents do not have their skin checked by professionals.
AKs are skin lesions that typically develop on the most exposed areas of the body; the head (especially the scalp of balding men), neck and arms. AKs can appear either on their own or in patches, and typically look like small, crusty patches of skin that can be red, white, pink, or a combination of colours. Some lesions can be very small, or almost invisible, but can be identified by their rough texture. Although AK lesions are not harmful in themselves, it is estimated that 40% to 80% of squamous cell carcinomas evolve from them. When diagnosed early, almost all AKs can be successfully removed, so people should consult a local dermatologist if they see the signs of AK.
#AKGlobalDay, a day to raise awareness of what is behind each AK mark
In order to raise awareness of this condition and its potential to lead to skin cancer, Almirall is organizing the second edition of the AK Global Day campaign on 24th May, with support from the leading skin cancer awareness group Euromelanoma. Alongside presenting the findings of the survey, the campaign will involve a range of activities to educate people about the warning signs of AK, the importance of skin checks, and how to identify lesions for themselves and their relatives and caregivers. Further information about the campaign can be found at https://www.almirall.com/.
As a dermatologist, I know that tackling actinic keratosis is a good way to see fewer cases of squamous cell carcinoma walk through my door. That’s why Euromelanoma is pleased to support the annual AK Global Day and its important public message to see AK as an early warning sign. We encourage everybody to see 24th May as a day to talk about, and check for, actinic keratosis,”
Veronique del Marmol, Chair of Euromelanoma.
AK Global Day, taking place on the 24th May each year, has become an important initiative in our commitment to caring for people with potentially life-changing skin conditions. To manage something, you must first be aware of it. It’s very likely everyone knows at least one person with AK, so our hope is that this annual campaign gets more people talking about AK.”
Dr. Volker Koscielny, Chief Medical Officer, Almirall.
Prevention, the main tool in the fight against AK
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is one of the main causes of AK. In recent years, the increase in the practice of outdoor activities and excessive sun exposure without the correct protection have caused a rise in the number of cases of actinic keratoses diagnosed by dermatologists. In this context, it is essential to prevent the damage that solar radiation can cause to our skin. According to the survey carried out by Almirall, more than three out of ten people who practice outdoor pursuits don’t use sunscreen often (34.47%), and more than half of people who practice outdoor pursuits get sunburnt at least once a year (52.01%).