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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Skin Cancer

Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

Release Date: May 2012

Population Children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10 to 24 years with fair skin Adults older than age 24 years
Recommendation Provide counseling about minimizing exposure to ultraviolet radiation to reduce risk for skin cancer.
Grade: B
No recommendation.
Grade: I
(Insufficient Evidence)
Risk Assessment Individuals with a fair skin type are at greatly increased risk for skin cancer. Fair skin type can be defined by eye and hair color; freckling; and historical factors, such as usual reaction to sun exposure (always or usually burning or infrequently tanning).
Behavioral Counseling Effective counseling interventions were generally of low intensity and almost entirely accomplished within the primary care visit.

Successful counseling interventions used cancer prevention or appearance-focused messages (such as stressing the aging effect of ultraviolet radiation on the skin) to reach specific audiences.

Interventions Behavior change interventions are aimed at reducing ultraviolet radiation exposure. Sun-protective behaviors include the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor ≥15, wearing hats or other shade-protective clothing, avoiding the outdoors during midday hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and avoiding the use of indoor tanning.
Balance of Harms and Benefits For children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10 to 24 years with fair skin, primary care counseling interventions can increase the use of sun-protective behaviors by a moderate amount, with no appreciable harms. For adults older than 24 years, there is inadequate evidence to determine the effect of counseling on the use of sun-protective behaviors.
Other Relevant USPSTF Recommendations The USPSTF has made recommendations on screening for skin cancer. These recommendations are available at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents, please go to http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

AHRQ Publication No. 11-05152-EF-3
Current as of May 2012

Internet Citation:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Skin Cancer: Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation. AHRQ Publication No. 11-05152-EF-3, May 2012. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf11/skincancouns/skincancounsum.htm


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