“There are about 75 new cases of melanoma each year, with nine deaths in 12 months being reported”. 

This was announced by Dr. Lawrence Scerri, dermatologist, in a recent interview with Voice of the Workers held at Boffa Hospital. 

He said that these figures are significant given the size of our population. 

Dr. Scerri said that the problem of skin cancer is topical and awareness is ever growing, especially when it comes to the link between skin cancer and the sun, or more specifically, ultraviolet rays. 

He said that this subject is very much related to the employment sector, particularly outdoor work where the workers are exposed to the sun and may not be using the required protection. Dr. Scerri spoke about the employers’ duty to ensure that workers who work outdoors have adequate protection to mitigate the risks. 

Asked what types of public information campaigns are being carried out, Dr. Scerri explained that Malta participates in the Euro Melanoma Campaign. 

Dr. Scerri said that this campaign has been ongoing for 20 years and focuses on different themes that tackle different aspects of the problem. 

Dr. Scerri added that studies show that people are very much aware of the problem of melanoma. 

The dermatologist added that we are talking about a country, Malta, that is close to the African continent with a sunny climate which sees it being exposed to the sun for half a year. He said that if one were to take a look at the weather report one would note that the UV index is generally high, indicating how strongly the sun shines on the Maltese islands. 

Dr. Scerri carried on to say that half the population has very white skin and these people are more susceptible to sun damage. 

Voice of the Workers asked whether work-related cancers are a burden on the Maltese economy. He said that there is a sector of the population that is being treated at Boffa Hospital that has skin cancer or lesions that can lead to skin cancer. Dr. Scerri said that these cancers cause a considerable burden but, together with his colleagues, he strives to provide the best service he can to these patients. 

He said that these types of cancers do not show an immediate improvement following treatment. 

Dr. Scerri emphasised the need for more public education and, given that we know that the main cause of these cancers is the sun, we need to keep pushing prevention by applying sun creams (using factor 50 or higher), avoiding the times when the sun is at its hottest and by wearing adequate clothing and sunglasses.