Offentliggjort fredag d. 21. oktober 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The opening of the Leo Pharma US headquarters is an important occasion. Leo Pharma is a Danish company dedicated to helping people all over the world to maintain healthy skin.
On this occasion, I have been asked to say a few words on UV and skin cancer prevention – a topic that I have been involved in, for a number of years together with the Danish Cancer Council. Skin cancer is a global challenge and affects millions of people all over the world.
The incidences of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers have been increasing over the past decades. According to the World Health Organisation between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132.000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed globally each year.
Also for the USA and Denmark it is a significant challenge. Denmark has one of the world’s highest incidences of skin cancer. And according to the Skin Cancer Foundation here in the USA, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. These are not very encouraging statistics. However, they do provide an incentive to share knowledge and best practice with the common goal of reducing the global burden of skin cancer.
The majority of all skin cancer cases are caused by excessive doses of UV radiation from the sun or solariums. It is a well established fact that skin cancer can often be prevented if the right precautions are taken. However, this requires a change of attitude and behaviour. How do we make these changes happen?
Effective communication is an important part of the answer. We all have a responsibility to teach our children about being ‘safe in the sun’ and the dangers of too much sun exposure and solariums.
I grew up in Australia where sun safety campaigns have been extremely successful as an effective way to communicate the dangers and prevention measures that should be taken in the sun. So, like most people from Australia, I have ‘respect’ for the sun.
When I moved to Denmark, I was surprised to discover quite a different attitude towards the sun. In Denmark we don’t get as much sun as they do in Australia, and when the sun finally shines every ray is enjoyed.
Over the past five years, the Danish Cancer Society together with the philanthropic foundation Trygfonden have been working hard to educate the Danish population, on the dangers of too much sun exposure and solariums, prevention of skin cancer and how to be safe in the sun. As patron of these campaigns, I’m delighted to be able to say that in this relatively short time we have experienced a lot of success. Parents, professionals and volunteers are increasingly taking responsibility for educating the Danish population and encouraging healthy sun habits. But, most importantly we are seeing a change in attitude and behaviour.
So, I am a firm believer in and a passionate advocate for prevention, but even when severe sunburn has occurred, there are some measures of prevention that can be taken to avoid the progression of cancer, thus eliminating the sometimes fatal development of skin cancer.
However, not all incidences of skin cancer can be prevented. Further development of new treatments is necessary. To be successful, co-operation and exchange of knowledge across borders is essential.
Denmark has a century long history for developing successful medicines for the benefit of patients. A significant effort is being put into cancer research and 40% of the current drug development pipeline in Denmark targets cancers.
Scientific knowledge and expertise does not recognise geographical borders. An example of this is the Leo Foundation’s donation to the Skin Cancer Foundation. When forces and resources are joined, we have a better chance of reducing the global burden of skin cancer.