Early detection of cancer could save 1,250 lives in the next 20 years, reveals the first Belgian research paper on the impact of skin cancer, “Impact of skin cancer in Belgium & potential reduction of the impact by effective prevention programs”, presented at a parliamentary round table in Brussels on Monday. Skin cancer is one of the most common and increasingly frequent forms of cancer, the number of cases increasing by 13% every year. Melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, kills approximately 400 Belgians annually. This type of cancer affects relatively young people, which leads to much higher indirect costs (work incapacity, morbidity, and mortality).
Research by Professors Lieven Annemans and Lieve Brochez from the Cancer Foundation have studied the impact of skin cancer on society and the cost-effectiveness of secondary prevention of skin cancer. Their paper shows that skin cancers currently cost 114 million euros a year. Over the next 20 years the projected cost is estimated at 5.9 billion euros. Primary prevention (keeping out of UVs) could save 1,100 lives and early detection of existing cancers could save 1,250 lives and 300 million euros, say the scientists. “These provisional results must be confirmed by more in-depth research on optimal means of prevention and screening,” they added.