Surfing is one of the most popular aquatic activities in Australia with an estimated 2.7 million recreational surfers 1 however, Australia has long been recognized as having the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. As a result the expected risk of skin cancer in surfers due to long periods of exposure to ultraviolet radiation is of great concern 2. The aim of this study was to investigate the lifetime prevalence of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), (basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)), and melanoma skin cancers (MSCs) in Australian surfers.
Given the geographic distribution of surfers in Australia, we utilized an online surveillance survey to determine the lifetime prevalence of NMSCs and MSCs. The survey consisted of physiological demographics (age, Ht, mass) and surfing specific demographics (board type, surfing exposure, ultraviolet exposure and skin type). Participants were instructed to report only NMSCs and MSCs by type/location that have only been diagnosed and/or treated by either a general practitioner (GP) or dermatologist.
A total 1,348 surfers participated, of which 184 surfers reported a skin cancer. Of skin cancers reported for the entire cohort, BCC was the most common (6.8%), followed by melanoma (1.4%) and SCC (0.6%). Relative risk was higher (p
Based upon these findings, individuals who surf are advised to regularly utilize sun protection strategies (avoid peak ultra violet radiation, rashvest, hat and sunscreen) and primary care physicians are recommended to regularly screen their patients who surf.
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