Construction workers, farmers and others who work in the sun are at greater risk for skin cancer, according to researchers. And a new study reveals these job-related cancers cost nations millions in medical expenses.
The researchers said lawmakers should address this trend and take steps to reduce job-related exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
“The findings suggest that policymakers might give greater priority to reducing sun exposure at work by allocating occupational cancer prevention resources accordingly,” said lead investigator Emile Tompa, a senior scientist at the Institute of Work and Health in Toronto.
Tompa and his team analyzed government records and health surveys in Canada. They found that in 2011, nonmelanoma skin cancers cost $34.6 million in Canadian dollars. (At current conversion rates, that’s about $27 million U.S. dollars.)
These costs included treatment, missed work, out-of-pocket expenses and reduced quality of life.
The researchers then looked at the cost per patient for nonmelanoma skin cancers. They found basal cell skin cancers cost $5,760 per person, while squamous cell carcinoma can exceed $10,500 (in Canadian currency).
The study was published April 26 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
“The results can also raise awareness among policymakers, employers, unions and workers about the significant contribution of workplace sun exposure to skin cancers,” Tompa said in a journal news release.
“These groups can now make a strong cost-benefit argument for inexpensive exposure reduction interventions, such as shade structures, hats and loose clothing, sunscreen, and shift scheduling to reduce the amount of time workers spend in the sun,” he said.
The American Cancer Society provides more on skin cancer.