Almirall has published the results of a survey that revealed that more than one third of people who have suffered from actinic keratosis (AK), the most common precancerous skin condition, are unaware of what causes it.

Closely related to overexposure to sunlight over time, AK is one of the most common diagnoses made by dermatologists, with an estimated prevalence of 13.3% in the European population.

Characterised by rough, scaly patches of skin that commonly develop on the most exposed areas of the body, including the head, neck and arms, it is estimated that 60% of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, develops from AK lesions.

Almirall’s survey, which included more than 2,500 participants aged over 35, aimed to establish the relationship between the disease and prolonged exposure to sunlight as part of its AK Global Day ‘Stay Vigilant’ campaign launched on 24 May 2024.

The survey revealed that nearly 60% of people had never had their skin checked by a professional and that half of Europe’s population gets sunburned at least once a year.

More specifically, this figure increased significantly among people aged between 25 and 44, with more than six out of ten people getting sunburned at least once a year.

The results follow on from insights discovered by Almirall last year, which revealed that 85% of those surveyed were unaware of the existence of AK.

The findings aim to encourage people to perform regular skin check-ups to identify AK lesions as early as possible and seek support from health professionals.

Dr Volker Koscielny, chief medical officer at Almirall, commented: “This year’s survey data show that there is still a significant lack of awareness of the long-term risks of excessive sun exposure without adequate protection.”