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Working in the Sun Is a Leading Risk for Skin Cancer

Nearly one-third of all nonmelanoma skin cancer deaths around the world are caused by working in the sun according to two United Nations agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization. The estimates, based on a recent WHO report, found that the number of skin cancer deaths attributed to workplace sun exposure increased 88% between the years 2000 and 2019. According to an article from CNN, this places sun exposure as the third largest workplace cancer risk, behind asbestos and silica dust. The report found that in 2019, 1.6 billion people were exposed to sunlight in their work, representing nearly 30% of all working age people. And while skin cancer has typically been concentrated in areas like Europe, North America and Australia, the number of cases in low- and middle-income countries was surprisingly high. “Occupational exposure to [UV radiation] is common and causes substantial, inequitable and growing attributable burden of [nonmelanoma skin cancer],” the study says. Frank Pega, an epidemiologist at WHO and the study’s lead author, suggests there are ways to protect workers, such as protective clothing, providing shade and adjusting hours. Countries could also consider early screening for workers and adding skin cancer caused by occupational sun exposure to lists of workplace diseases, which could allow workers access to workers’ compensation, Pega told CNN.

Reawakened Virus Linked to Complications in CAR T-cell Therapy

CAR T-cell therapy, an immunotherapy that works by extracting immune cells from a patient’s body and modifying them to bind to cancer cells, has given many people with cancer a chance at a cure, but some patients who receive this therapy have experienced mysterious side effects. For example, one 49-year-old woman from the Netherlands saw her cancer disappear in response to treatment only to be followed by memory and thinking problems associated with encephalitis, or swelling in the brain. A study published Nov. 8 in Nature describes how a common strain of the human herpes virus, HHV-6, that normally lies dormant on T cells, is sometimes reawakened when T cells are extracted and cultured from the patient. The now active virus is reintroduced when the T cells are infused back in the patient, causing the symptoms. Caleb Lareau, a cancer immunologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and lead author on the study, said in an article in STAT that these complications are rare and treatable and should not discourage patients from CAR T-cell treatment. “The hope now is that given the degree of characterization we provide in the paper, it’s something the community can be aware of, and lives can be saved as a function of further understanding this phenomenon,” Lareau told STAT.

Black Men Are More Likely to Have Prostate Cancer Than White Men With Same PSA Level

Black men who have the same prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels as white men are more likely to have prostate cancer. Higher levels of PSA can indicate that men have prostate cancer, so PSA testing is a common screening method for the disease. According to a Nov. 6 study in the journal Cancer that included more than 75,000 Black men and 207,000 white men receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration, Black veterans were 50% more likely to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis on their first biopsy than their white peers. Black men with a PSA of 4.0 ng/mL had a 49% chance of prostate cancer being detected in a tissue biopsy. Only 39% of white men with the same PSA level were diagnosed with prostate cancer. White men who had a PSA of 13.4 ng/mL had an equivalent chance of receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis as Black men who had a PSA of 4.0 ng/mL, HealthDay News reported. “These findings suggest that to reduce health disparities for veterans in the prevention of prostate cancer, clinicians should consider an individual veteran’s risk for prostate cancer including factors such as race and age,” said study author Kyung Min Lee, in a press release. Lee, a research health scientist at the VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure in Salt Lake City, also suggested that people who have an above-average risk for prostate cancer, including Black men, consider starting PSA testing earlier.