This review of our work, presented at the Photocarcinogenesis Symposium of the 14th International Congress on Photobiology, shows that UV-A causes a similar number of gene mutations as UV-B in human skin cancer. Areas of about 20 keratinocytes from solar keratoses and squamous cell carcinomas, which are benign and malignant skin cancers, respectively, were sampled by laser capture microdissection. Automated sequencing of the p53 gene was used to detect mutations in these tumor areas, and the cause of the mutations was attributed on the basis of previously published studies. UV-A and UV-B caused similar numbers of p53 gene mutations in both benign and malignant human skin tumors, with UV-B–induced mutations being restricted to the upper areas of the tumors and UV-A–induced mutations predominating at the basal layer. Furthermore, each microdissected region within a tumor had distinct mutations showing that the skin tumors consisted of different clones of cells. This is not consistent with how human skin carcinogenesis is currently understood, and hypotheses to explain our data are presented. We propose that the UV-A waveband of sunlight is as important as UV-B in causing skin cancer in humans.
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Vol. 81 • No. 1