High variability in anatomic patterns of cutaneous photodamage: a population-based study

What is known?

Exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. For this reason, skin cancer is strongly associated with sun-damaged skin. Certain body sites are generally assumed to have more sun exposure and sun-damage than others.

What is new?

Patterns of sun-damage (photodamage) were measured in 190 participants from Queensland. Three-dimensional total-body photography was used. Photographs were graded according to severity of sun-damage for 10 body sites.

58% of participants were found to have moderate-severe to severe sun damage on most body sites.There was large variation in the pattern of sun damage among the study participants.

For example:

  • A higher proportion of woman had severe photodamage on the arms.
  • A higher proportion of men had moderate or severe photodamage on the lower back.

People aged over 50 years, who were a past or current smoker or had a history of skin cancer tended to have higher levels of sun damage.

What does this mean?

Differences in patterns of sun damage within populations should be considered when estimating the risk of skin cancer and promoting preventive measures on a population scale.

Objective measures of sun damage should be used to help better understand the link between site-specific sun damage and skin cancers.

Whole body measurement of sun damage could one day be used to assess individual risk of skin cancer.

Contact: Joanne Aitken

Reference: Betz-Stablein B*, Llewellyn S*, Bearzi P, Grochulska K, Rutjes C, Aitken JF, Janda M, O’Rouke P, Soyer HP, Green AC, *Joint first authors. High variability in anatomic patterns of cutaneous photodamage: a population-based study. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2021. doi: 10.1111/jdv.17352.

Read more