April 26, 2019
Findings from a recent study, conducted to determine the prevalence of skin cancer, showed a high incidence of actinic keratoses among nursing home residents.
Non-melanoma skin cancer has steadily increased among the elderly population, along with morbidity and related medical costs, and has become an emerging clinical problem among patients aged 70 years and older. “Regular dermatology check-ups in nursing homes would be needed,” the researchers said, “but due to financial limitations, lack of time in daily clinical practice, and limited number of practicing dermatologists it is not the current standard.”
The study included 223 residents from 10 randomly selected nursing homes in Berlin, Germany. Actinic keratoses were diagnosed in 21.1% of residents. While none of the residents were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, 16 were diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer (7.2%).
Male sex was significantly associated with actinic keratosis, while female sex was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer, the researchers observed. In addition, smoking was associated with an increased incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer.
“With respect to the worldwide growing aging population new programs and decisions are required,” the researchers concluded. “Overall, primary health care professionals should play a more active role in early diagnosis of skin cancer in nursing home residents.”
To support health professionals treating the elderly population, the researchers suggested dermoscopy courses, web-based or smart-phone based applications, and teledermatology, which may help improve the early diagnosis of skin cancer.
Akdeniz M, Hahnel E, Ulrich C, Blume-Peytavi U, Kottner J. Prevalence and associated factors of skin cancer in aged nursing home residents: A multicenter prevalence study. PLoS One. 2019;14(4):e0215379. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215379