Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has drafted a statement recommending that clinicians should provide counseling on sun protection behaviors to anyone with fair skin between the ages of 6 months and 24 years, including the parents of young children with fair skin. These behaviors, such as using sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing and avoiding indoor tanning, can help prevent skin cancer later in life.
USPSTF recommendations help establish the importance of including preventive services in primary care. A grade B recommendation from the USPSTF, such as this one, means that there is high certainty that the net benefit of the service recommended is moderate to substantial.
Because exposure to ultraviolet radiation during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of skin cancer later in life, it is important for counseling to begin early. People with fair skin, with freckles and who sunburn easily are at a higher risk for skin cancer. Other risk factors include a history of sunburns, tanning bed use and previous skin cancer.
For adults older than age 24, the USPSTF recommends clinicians consider the individual’s risks for skin cancer in their decision on whether to provide counseling.
Members of the public can review the rationale for the recommendation, clinical and other considerations involved, discussion of statistics and evidence and information on the previous relevant USPSTF recommendation on the USPSTF website
. Comments can be submitted until November 6, 2017 at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm