Every year in the UK about 75,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) are registered, and about 9500 people are diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma (CM). The main risk factor for these cancers is exposure to sunlight. The effects of light on skin are wavelength dependent, with wavelengths in the UVB waveband (280-315 nm) being the most carcinogenic. UVB is directly absorbed by DNA, producing dimeric pyrimidine photoproducts including cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) and pyrimidine (6-4) pyrimodone photoproducts (6-4PP). However UVA (315-400 nm) can also produce CPD, induce skin tumours in mice, and has been shown to be mutagenic in cell culture. Although the precise role of UVA in human skin cancer remains to be elucidated, it comprises the major portion of solar UV radiation, transmits through window glass and can be delivered in high doses from tanning lamps. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), in particular the 2-aryl propionic acid derivatives, are a well-documented group of photosensitising chemicals producing clinical phototoxic and photoallergic reactions. We have used carprofen, a model compound from this group to see if it could amplify the effects of UVA and contribute to the formation of CPD by UVA. Preliminary work has shown that carprofen combined with low doses of UVA (lambda(max): 365 nrn: 5 J/cm(2)) can produce both strand breaks (SB) and CPD in human skin or blood cells. CPD were detected indirectly by both an immunofluorescence method and as T4 endonuclease V sensitive sites in the comet assay. These findings show that compounds other than fluoroquinolones and psoralen derivatives may contribute to CPD formation in skin cells in combination with UVA. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.