SOURCE: Canadian Dermatology Association

June 08, 2015 08:00 ET

World Congress of Dermatology Examines Power of Light to Heal and Destroy

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - June 08, 2015) - Some 11,000 delegates in Vancouver for the World Congress of Dermatology will mark Photodermatology Day today, part of the United Nations' International Year of Light.

These dermatologists have seen the destruction that UV radiation can cause their patients, but increasingly, they are also discovering its immense healing powers.

"When most people think of the effects of sunlight on the skin these days, they think of cancer," said Dr. Harvey Lui, Secretary-General of the 2015 World Congress of Dermatology and photodermatology expert. "However, dermatologists increasingly use UV light to treat conditions like precancerous skin lesions and severe psoriasis. It is remarkable that something that can lead to diseases of the skin can also save lives when used in a controlled manner by a dermatologist."

On the negative side, skin cancer, caused primarily from exposure to the sun, has been on the rise since the 1970s. Some 85,000 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015. People born in the 1990s have an estimated one-in-six lifetime risk of getting skin cancer, up from one-in-20 for people born in the 1960s.

On the positive side, UV radiation is increasingly being valued for its therapeutic properties in treating an array of serious skin conditions.

Canada has been an important contributor to the science of photo dermatology. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Geoffrey Shulman, who passed away from cancer in 2012, at age 57, developed a revolutionary treatment for actinic keratosis -- common lesions caused by sun damage that frequently lead to squamous cell carcinoma.

This technology, known as photodynamic therapy (PDT), involves putting a photosensitive solution on diseased skin cells. The solution penetrates rapidly growing cells, like cancer cells, while leaving normal skin tissue alone.

Light is then applied to the lesion, which activates the solution and destroys the diseased cells. Dr. Shulman's technology is now a staple of many dermatology offices around the world.

As part of the World Congress, a lectureship is being held in Dr. Shulman's name on June 12. The Congress will also feature over 20 other presentations related to light and photo dermatology, including:

  • a session on the future of PUVA therapy, also known as photochemotherapy.
  • the benefits of sunscreen for people with dark skin tones
  • an examination of a trend in the United States in which universities facilitate the use of tanning salons by students
  • various sessions on the use of light to treat melanoma, acne and vitiligo.

About the WCD

The World Congress of Dermatology is the world's oldest and continuous international dermatology meeting. The first WCD was held in 1889 and is presented under the auspices of the International League of Dermatological Societies. The 23RD WCD is the first to be held in Canada. For more information, contact the WCD press office at 778-331-7624 or Follow the WCD on Twitter and Instagram at @Derm2015.

About the ILDS

The International League of Dermatological Societies is a non-governmental organization in official relations with the World Health Organization and was officially established in 1935 during the 9th International Congress of Dermatology and Syphilology held in Budapest. The objectives of the ILDS are to stimulate on a global basis the cooperation of societies of dermatology and societies interested in cutaneous medicine and biology; encourage the worldwide advancement of dermatological education, care, and science; promote personal and professional relations amongst dermatologists from around the world; represent dermatology in international health organizations; and, organize a World Congress of Dermatology every four years. For more information about the ILDS, connect with them on Twitter @ILDSDerm or visit

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Contact Information

  • Contact Information
    Jennifer Scott
    WCD2015 Media Relations Director
    Mobile: 1-613-716-2098

    WCD on-site press office (as of June 9, 2015)
    Tel.: 778-331-7624