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Interview with Prof. Dr. med. Arenberger

Questions to

Prof. Dr. med. Petr Arenberger, Director of the Dermatology Clinic of Charles University in Prague

What exactly do we have to think about skin cancer and how does it develop?
The three common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. While basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma predominantly grow locally and can sometimes be very destructive, malignant melanoma is life-threatening as it can cause metastases.

What percentage of all diagnosed skin cancer cases can be cured if they are treated?
It’s difficult to answer this question exactly. The number depends on whether the patient comes to the doctor in time. How many new cases of melanoma (malignant black skin cancer) are there each year? There are 12 to 14 new melanoma cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year. This is an upward trend that has increased fivefold in the past 30 years. The average age of a melanoma patient is 55 years. However, patients with melanoma are getting younger and younger. 35 year olds with malignant melanoma are unfortunately no exception. (Editor’s note: New cases of other skin cancers in Germany: about 240,000 per year.)

What are the main causes of skin cancer?
There are several causes that can affect skin cancer development. Among others, the genetic conditions, skin type and environmental factors, especially the ultra violet light. This trigger plays an increasing role. UV radiation is becoming more and more aggressive for people because the main filter, the ozone layer, has become thinner. We ourselves can greatly influence the effect of this trigger by our behavior in the sun. Unfortunately, there are still many people who do not want to know anything about “photo protection” – as protection against too much sun can be called.

Can children already get skin cancer?
Yes, it is possible in principle. These are usually genetic changes. In extreme cases, the reason may also be the excessive exposure to UV light, which leads to repeated sunburns.

What is the best protection for babies and children for not getting skin cancer now and later?
Until the first year of life, children should completely abstain from sunbathing. Later it is highly recommended for them to stay in the shade between 12 and 15 o’clock, to protect themselves from the sun with clothes that have a good UPF (sun protection factor against UVA and UVB radiation) and at the skin areas that are not covered with textiles they should be using a sunscreen with high protection factor.

How do teenagers and adults best protect themselves?
The best protection is appropriate protective clothing. This clothing should have the following properties: high sun protection factor against UVA and UVB radiation, breathable, quick-drying and comfortable to wear. Important: The material should not trigger allergies and the garments must also be usable in extreme situations, such as wet, as in water, stretched, etc. and still have a high UPF (ultra violet protection factor). Last but not least, the clothing must also be attractive, so that teens and adults feel comfortable in it and not only consider the clothing as a protective measure, but also accept it as a valuable piece of fashion.

How much sun is still healthy?
When is the sun actually healthy? Why do we need sun? The sun is important for the production of the active form of vitamin D. However, the amount is sufficient when the face and hands are exposed to the sun for 5 to 10 minutes a day. Of course, the sun is also very important for our psyche. But it is sufficient to come in contact with sunshine while wearing a sunscreen.

Is it enough to protect yourself with sunscreen cream and sunscreen clothing?
Not only are UV rays involved in the development of skin cancer. An important role also plays our immune system. Therefore, we should not forget the strengthening of the immune system through sports activities and healthy nutrition.

Why does sunscreen have to be applied half an hour before staying in the sun?
The active substance has to penetrate deeply into the skin and this takes a certain amount of time.

Is sunscreen safe for children?
Children have special sun protection creams available. You should comply with the following parameters: high sun protection factor (SPF), hypoallergenicity, and low comedogenic, that is, blackhead to pimple-triggering potential. For some time, the growing skin cancer risk is well-known through many media releases.

Do you already feel a change in public thinking?
I’d say: yes – concrete figures are not available, but I personally feel an increased tendency among patients in the outpatient department every year to actively choose the best individual protective measures.

Sun protection can be fun – high-tech fabrics protect childrens' skin

Also useful in Germany!


“Me no fry”: The Australians are inventive when it comes to high-profile sunscreen slogans. Also “Slip. Slap. Slop.” has spread to Europe. “Put on a shirt, put on sunscreen, and wear a hat.” is the translation of the campaign, which can be seen “Down Under” on billboards across the country. It was initiated by the Australian government, which appeals to the self-responsible skin cancer prevention of their citizens. It’s about time: skin cancer has long become the number one common disease in Australia. Over 80 percent of all diagnosed cancers fall under this category.

In this country too, cancer organizations, paediatricians and pediatricians are increasingly warning against the consequences of high levels of sunlight. As the German Cancer Aid just announced, the number of new cases has more than doubled in the past 30 years. A large proportion of the 240,000 people affected each year is between 40 and 50 years old. In the past, the average age was around 20 years.

Children and adolescents are particularly at risk because their thinner skin has not yet developed sufficient self-protection. Even a sunburn at a young age is enough to have a statistically higher skin cancer risk. In addition, more and more time is spent outdoors and the skin is exposed to the radiation longer. If this happens without slow habituation to the sun, for example during a vacation in the south, the risk increases manyfold. Experts call them sun exposure surges, which should absolutely be avoided. Further consequences of too much sun are premature skin aging, a weakened immune system and eye diseases.

Experts recommend shade as the most effective sunscreen, especially at lunchtime. Also wearing well-suited clothing while in the sun, including head, neck and feet, as well as creaming the uncovered skin surfaces. If you protect your children and yourself in this way, the summer season will be a lot less stressful.

Not every clothing protects from the sun

Basically every textile has a certain amount of UV protection. It is true that the denser the fabric and the darker the fabric, the higher the protection. In order to wear the clothing even in hot temperatures and on the beach, where the UV radiation is even more intense due to the reflection of the water, it needs a summery design with light fabrics and bright colors. In addition, as much skin as possible should be covered. This poses a challenge to sunscreen designers. Because on the one hand, light fabrics and a loose, air-permeable weave invite the sun to the skin, on the other hand, especially in summer, the motto is to dress as sparingly as possible. In addition, with reliable sun protection clothing, moisture, stretching, washing, cleaning and abrasion must not reduce the protection factor.

Safety by UV standard 801

Measurement according to the UV standard 801 has prevailed in all types of sunscreen textiles, as it provides the most reliable results in practice. The examination is carried out under the most unfavorable wearing conditions (worst case scenario). In contrast, in both the Australian-New Zealand Standard (AS / NZS 4399: 1996) and the European Standard EN 13758-1, the UPF is measured on virgin textile material in unstretched and dry conditions. Since the special use situation (stretching, moistening by sweat, etc.) of clothing is not taken into account, a reliable UPF for clothing can not be determined. The measurements according to these two methods are suitable at most for the determination of the UPF for external and internal sun protection textiles on buildings as well as parasols and awnings.

Test method

UV standard 801



Measurement on stretched, wet textile, which has mechanical wear through wearing and textile care.

Adopt the highest UV radiation and the most sensitive skin type.

The solar spectrum in Australia is adjusted with the highest radiation intensity.

Recommended for

clothing: swimwear, beach and swimwear for children, work wear, sportswear, headgear, summer wear, uniforms awnings, parasols, blinds, etc.

Test method

Australian-New Zealand standard AS / NZS 4399: 1996



Measurement on unstretched, dry textile in new condition The Australian solar spectrum is readjusted during the measurement

= not applicable to practical use

Recommended for

restricted for awnings, parasols, blinds etc.

Test method

European Standard EN 13758-1


Measurement on unstretched, dry textile in new condition.

The solar spectrum in Albuquerque (New Mexico / USA), which corresponds to that in southern Europe, is readjusted during the measurement.

= not applicable to practical use

Recommended for

restricted for awnings, parasols, blinds etc.

Source of the graphics: Hohenstein Institute / Images: hyphen

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