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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1997 Sep-Dec;16(3-4):309-27.

Approaches to the prevention and control of skin cancer.

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  • 1Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Department of Agricultural Education, Texas A & M University, USA.


Skin cancer is the most common and the most preventable form of cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation, while melanoma is associated with intense episodes of ultraviolet exposure resulting in sunburns. Numerous risk factors are associated with the development of skin cancer. These include exposure to ultraviolet radiation; phenotypic factors such as skin type, eye and hair color, tendency to burn and tan, and having freckles and moles; a personal or family history of skin cancer; and occupational sun exposure. Primary prevention behaviors include applying SPF 15+ sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure, reapplying SPF 15+ sunscreen every 1 1/2 to 2 hours or after swimming or sweating, dressing in protective clothing, using shade, limiting exposure during peak sun hours, and avoiding artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation such as tanning beds. Secondary prevention behaviors include screening and early detection in combination with education on the primary prevention behaviors. Interventions designed to increase sun protective behaviors have resulted in increased knowledge and attitudes, but limited behavior change. And while skin cancer screenings have shown promising results, few studies have a follow-up component. Future studies should focus on developing effective strategies for making sun protective behaviors routine and determining the effectiveness of skin cancer screening. To inform approaches to the prevention and control of skin cancer, this paper will summarize key primary and secondary preventive behaviors, highlight primary and secondary prevention programs, and identify key unanswered questions in the area of skin cancer prevention and control.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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