23/05/2008

Outdoor Workers Not Screened for Skin Cancer, Research Says

New research has determined that employees working outdoors in the
construction, forestry, fishing or farming industries are least likely to
receive skin exams, despite their increased risk of incurring skin cancer from
regular exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

In a study published online in the Journal of the American Academy of
Dermatology, dermatologist Robert Kirsner, professor and vice chairman of the
departments of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami
Miller School of Medicine in Miami, and his colleagues used the National Health
Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2000 and 2005 to estimate the percentage of
U.S. workers who fell into two categories: those who received a skin exam
during an appointment with a primary health care provider within the past 12
months and those who had a skin exam in their lifetimes.

According to Dr. Kirsner, previous studies demonstrated that high-risk
populations such as outdoor workers don't frequently receive total-body
screening examinations by primary case physicians.

As dermatologists, we know that the early detection of skin cancer by routine
skin examinations is crucial in successfully treating this potentially
life-threatening condition particularly for workers routinely exposed to
harmful ultraviolet light, Kirsner said. This study shows that workers who
need careful monitoring for skin cancer due to the nature of their jobs are
less likely to receive skin exams than workers in low-risk occupations.

Conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the NHIS is an
annual, cross-sectional, in-person household survey of U.S. workers. In 2000
and 2005, the Cancer Control Module was included as part of the NHIS and
contained questions on skin examinations that were administered to 19,702 and
18,422 employed participants, respectively.

Kirsner concluded that when he and his colleagues examined the data for the
38,124 study participants, only 15 percent of all U.S. workers reported ever
receiving a skin examination during their lifetime, and only 8 percent of those
who also had seen a health care provider in the past year reported that they
had received a skin exam during that time.

He added that occupational groups at increased risk for exposure to UV light on
the job were less likely to have ever received a skin examination in their
lifetime than the average U.S. worker. This included:

  • farm operators and managers (10 percent);

  • farm workers and other agricultural workers (7 percent);

  • forestry and fishing occupations (3 percent);

  • construction and mining trades (8 percent); and

  • construction laborers (8 percent).

Kirsner concluded that socioeconomic factors played a role, adding that younger
black or Hispanic women without health insurance who were farm, service or
blue-collar workers not using any sun protection were the least likely to
report ever having been screened for skin cancer.

Kirsner emphasized that all patients, regardless of their occupations, should
ask their physician to provide skin exams during their routine check up. He
also suggested that developing and implementing local community health fairs
that include screening programs targeting high-risk workers could be helpful.


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AplusA-online.de - Source: Occupational Hazards