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Ann Oncol. 1997 May;8(5):435-7.

Should subjects who used psoralen suntan activators be screened for melanoma? Epidemiology and Prevention Subgroup, EORTC Melanoma Cooperative Group EORTC Prevention Research Division.

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Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.



Psoralens are potent tanning activators that have been introduced in France and in Belgium in some tanning lotions and sunscreens. It was shown that poor tanners who ever used psoralen tanning activators display a four-fold increase in melanoma risk when compared to poor tanners using regular sunscreens. Although psoralens have now banned from suntan lotions, it is likely that the increase in melanoma risk linked to their previous use will persist for several years.


The melanoma risk attributable to psoralens use was calculated to evaluate the population at risk in France and Belgium.


Melanoma incidence for the year 1995 was estimated to be of 10.2 per 100,000 in France and of 10.0 per 100,000 in Belgium, representing 5,900 and 1,000 melanoma cases. From the melanoma incidence among poor tanner who ever used psoralens (52 per 100,000) and estimation of the percentage of psoralen users among poor tanners, it can be derived that, for the year 1995, 267 melanoma cases could be attributed to psoralen tanning activators.


Subjects who used psoralen suntan activators should be informed of their increased melanoma risk and be encouraged to participate in clinical programmes for early detection of melanoma, more especially when they are poor tanners and display a high naevi count. Such an action could save a significant number of lives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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