85% of people unaware of actinic keratosis, the most common pre-cancerous skin condition

24 May 2023
  • A survey conducted by Almirall in the EU and US reveals the limited knowledge about this skin condition that affects 13.3% of the European population
  • Results also showed that the majority of people asked (57.73%) never get their skin checked by a professional
  • Actinic keratoses (AK) are skin lesions that typically develop on the most exposed areas of the body and are considered an early warning sign of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer
  • To raise awareness of this condition, Almirall is launching its second annual AK Global Day campaign on 24th May, supported by leading skin cancer awareness group, Euromelanoma

23rd May, 2023 – Almirall S.A. (ALM), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on medical dermatology, presented today the results of a survey revealing that 85% of respondents are unaware of the existence of actinic keratosis (AK). This chronic skin condition can lead to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – the second most common form of skin cancer. The survey, conducted by Almirall with over 2,500 participants over the age or 35, aimed to understand the level of knowledge about AK and skin health habits within the general population of Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the US.

Almirall presented these findings as it launches its second annual AK Global Day campaign on 24th May, organized by the company and supported by leading skin cancer awareness group, Euromelanoma. The campaign aims to raise awareness of this condition and encourage people who have been exposed to UV radiation over the years to recognize AK lesions as a warning sign.

AK is one of the most common diagnoses made by dermatologists, with an estimated prevalence of 13.3% in the European population. However, with AK caused by cumulative UV exposure from either the sun or tanning beds, the older you are, the more likely you will have AK; cases rise to 25% and beyond in the over 50 years of age. Despite its high prevalence, this survey revealed that the majority of people (57.73%) don’t ever get their skin checked by a professional. Moreover, almost a third do not check their skin at least once a year to find signs of suspicious marks and lesions. These data vary depending on the country. In the case of the UK, more than 8 out of 10 respondents do not have their skin checked by professionals.

AKs are skin lesions that typically develop on the most exposed areas of the body; the head (especially the scalp of balding men), neck and arms. AKs can appear either on their own or in patches, and typically look like small, crusty patches of skin that can be red, white, pink, or a combination of colours. Some lesions can be very small, or almost invisible, but can be identified by their rough texture. Although AK lesions are not harmful in themselves, it is estimated that 40% to 80% of squamous cell carcinomas evolve from them. When diagnosed early, almost all AKs can be successfully removed, so people should consult a local dermatologist if they see the signs of AK.

#AKGlobalDay, a day to raise awareness of what is behind each AK mark

In order to raise awareness of this condition and its potential to lead to skin cancer, Almirall is organizing the second edition of the AK Global Day campaign on 24th May, with support from the leading skin cancer awareness group Euromelanoma. Alongside presenting the findings of the survey, the campaign will involve a range of activities to educate people about the warning signs of AK, the importance of skin checks, and how to identify lesions for themselves and their relatives and caregivers. Further information about the campaign can be found at www.akglobalday.almirall.com.

“As a dermatologist, I know that tackling actinic keratosis is a good way to see fewer cases of squamous cell carcinoma walk through my door. That’s why Euromelanoma is pleased to support the annual AK Global Day and its important public message to see AK as an early warning sign. We encourage everybody to see 24th May as a day to talk about, and check for, actinic keratosis,” said Veronique del Marmol, Chair of Euromelanoma.

“AK Global Day, taking place on the 24th May each year, has become an important initiative in our commitment to caring for people with potentially life-changing skin conditions. To manage something, you must first be aware of it. It’s very likely everyone knows at least one person with AK, so our hope is that this annual campaign gets more people talking about AK,” stated Dr. Volker Koscielny, Chief Medical Officer at Almirall.

Prevention, the main tool in the fight against AK

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is one of the main causes of AK. In recent years, the increase in the practice of outdoor activities and excessive sun exposure without the correct protection have caused a rise in the number of cases of actinic keratoses diagnosed by dermatologists. In this context, it is essential to prevent the damage that solar radiation can cause to our skin. According to the survey carried out by Almirall, more than three out of ten people who practice outdoor pursuits don’t use sunscreen often (34.47%), and more than half of people who practice outdoor pursuits get sunburnt at least once a year (52.01%).

To learn more about AK, the associated risk factors, what it looks and feels like, how to search for it, and what to do if you find it, go to www.akglobalday.almirall.com

About the Almirall survey

In March and April 2023, Almirall surveyed approximately 500 +35yr olds in each of the following countries: Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK, and the US. Totaling 2,543 responses, of which 2,496 were valid, the survey asked 15 questions designed to understand the public’s sun protection behaviors and their awareness of, and attitudes towards, actinic keratosis. In terms of demographics, respondents were distributed as follows: 60.82% of respondents were between 35 and 54 years of age, 36.94% between 55 and 74, and 2.24% were 75 or older, whereas 55,96% identified as female and 44,04% as male.

About Almirall

Almirall is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on skin health. We collaborate with scientists and healthcare professionals to address patients' needs through science to improve their lives. Our Noble Purpose is at the core of our work: "Transform the patients' world by helping them realize their hopes and dreams for a healthy life". We invest in differentiated and ground-breaking medical dermatology products to bring our innovative solutions to patients in need.

The company, founded in 1943 and headquartered in Barcelona, is publicly traded on the Spanish Stock Exchange (ticker: ALM). Throughout its 79-year history, Almirall has focused intensely on patients' needs. Almirall has a direct presence in 21 countries and strategic agreements in over 70, with about 1,800 employees. Total revenue in 2022 was €878.5MM.

For more information, please visit www.almirall.com