Skin cancer in Greenland 1955–1974

  • N. P. Kromann
  • N. Højgaard Nielsen
  • J. P. Hart Hansen
Original Papers Clinical Oncology or Epidemiology


During the period from 1955 to 1974, a total of 23 cases of skin cancer in indigenous Greenlanders was diagnosed, 15 in males and eight in females. There were ten basal cell carcinomas, four squamous-cell carcinomas, five malignant melanomas of the skin, and four sarcomas. Eight of the ten basal cell carcinomas were located on the head, half of these on the eyelids. Three of the four squamous-cell carcinomas were found on the lower lip. The number of malignant melanomas in females and the number of remaining, nonmelanotic skin cancers in both males and females were significantly lower than expexted if the incidence in the Greenland population had been the same as in Denmark. Since recent investigations seem to indicate that the annual ultraviolet radiation is of almost the same magnitude as in northwest Europe, the low incidence may be due to less skin exposure and/or ethnic factors such as a higher degree of pigmentation. No accumulation of cases within definite geographical areas was found and no occupational clustering was apparent. As regards both squamous-cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas, the degree of metastases and survival indicated that Greenlandic patients sought medical assistance very late.

Key words

Skin cancer Incidence Ultraviolet rays Eskimo Greenland 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bailar JC, Ederer F (1964) Significance factors for the ratio of a Poisson variable to its expectation. Biometrics 20:639–644Google Scholar
  2. Blot WJ, Lanier A, Fraumeni JF, Bender TR (1975) Cancer mortality among Alaskan natives 1960–1969. J Natl Cancer Inst 55:547–554Google Scholar
  3. Clemmesen J (1965) Statistical studies in malignant neoplasms II. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (Suppl) 174:250–253Google Scholar
  4. Clemmesen J (1969) Statistical studies in malignant neoplasms III. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (Suppl) 209:114–115Google Scholar
  5. Clemmesen J (1974) Statistical studies in malignant neoplasms IV. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (Suppl) 247:230–231Google Scholar
  6. Clemmesen J (1977) Statistical studies in malignant neoplasms V. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (Suppl.) 261:248Google Scholar
  7. Doll R (1976) Comparison between registries. Age-standardized rates. In: Waterhouse J, Muir C, Correa P, Powell J (eds) Cancer incidence in five continents, 1st edn, vol 3. International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, pp 453–459Google Scholar
  8. Fitzpatrick TB, Pathak MA, Harber LC, Seiji M, Kukita A (1974) An introduction to the problem of normal and abnormal responses of man's skin to solar radiation. In: Fitzpatrick TB, Pathak MA, Harber LC, Seiji M, Kukita A (eds) Sunlight and man. Univ of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, pp 3–14Google Scholar
  9. Fortuine R (1969) Characteristics of cancer in the Eskimos of Southwestern Alaska. Cancer 23:468–474Google Scholar
  10. Gavrilova MK (1966) Radiation climate of the Arctic. Oldbourne Press, London, pp 114–116Google Scholar
  11. Jensen OA (1962) Xeroderma, pigmentosum observed in a Greenlander. Acta Ophthalmol (Copenhagen) 40:96–103Google Scholar
  12. Kissmeyer-Nielsen F, Kjerbye KE, Lamm LU, Jørgensen J, Petersen GB, Gürtler H (1972) Study of the HL-A system in Eskimos. In: Dausset J, Colombani J (eds) Histocompatibility, testing. Munksgaard, Copenhagen, pp 317–324Google Scholar
  13. Lanier AP, Bender TR, Blot WJ, Fraumeni JF, Hurlburt WB (1976) Cancer incidence in Alaskan natives. Int J Cancer 18:409–412Google Scholar
  14. Mcldorf G (1907) Über das Vorkommen von Geschwülsten bei der Bevölkerung in Grönland. Nord Med Arch 40:1–29Google Scholar
  15. Mikkelsen F, Nielsen NH, Hansen JPH (1977) Kaposi's sarcoma in Polar Eskimos. Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 57:539–541Google Scholar
  16. Nielsen NH, Mikkelsen F, Hansen JPH (1977) Nasopharyngeal cancer in Greenland. The incidence in an arctic Eskimo population. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (A) 85:850–858Google Scholar
  17. Nielsen NH, Mikkelsen F, Hansen JPH (1978) Carcinoma of the uterine cervix and dysplasia in Greenland. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand (A) 86:36–44Google Scholar
  18. Nielsen NH, Hansen JPH (1979) Gastric and colorectal cancer in Greenland. Diagnostic basis and minimum incidence. Scand J Gastroenterol 14:697–703Google Scholar
  19. Torrey EF (1962–1963) Malignant neoplasms among Alaskan natives. An epidemiological approach to cancer. McGill Med J 31–32:107–115Google Scholar
  20. Urbach F, Epstein JH, Forbes PD (1974) Ultraviolet carcinogenesis. Experimental, global and genetic aspects. In: Fitzpatrick TB, Pathak MA, Harber LC, Seiji M, Kukita A (eds) Sunlight and man. Univ of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, pp 259–283Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. P. Kromann
    • 1
  • N. Højgaard Nielsen
    • 2
  • J. P. Hart Hansen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyFinsen InstituteCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of PathologyRigshospitaletCopenhagen ØDenmark
  3. 3.Department of PathologyGentofte HospitalDenmark

Personalised recommendations