[4 min read] Behavioural counselling to prevent skin cancer

Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, with two in three Australians diagnosed with the disease by the age of 70. A recent report looked at recommendations on behavioural counselling for the primary prevention of skin cancer.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force reviewed evidence on whether counselling patients about sun protection reduces intermediate outcomes (for example, sunburn or precursor skin lesions) or skin cancer; and the link between counselling and behaviour change, the link between behaviour change and skin cancer incidence, and the harms of counselling or changes in sun protection behaviour.

It determined that behavioural counselling interventions are of moderate benefit in increasing sun protection behaviours in children, adolescents, and young adults with fair skin types. There was adequate evidence that behavioural counselling interventions result in a small increase in sun protection behaviours in adults older than 24 years with fair skin types.

These recommendations were made:

  • Counselling young adults, adolescents, children, and parents of young children about minimising exposure to UV radiation for persons aged six months to 24 years with fair skin types may reduce their risk of skin cancer.
  • Clinicians selectively offering counselling to adults older than 24 years with fair skin types about minimising their exposure to UV radiation may reduce risk of skin cancer. Existing evidence indicates that the net benefit of counselling all adults older than 24 years is small. In determining whether this service is appropriate in individual cases, patients and clinicians should consider the presence of risk factors for skin cancer.

Read more recent research.

Source: US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Skin CancerUS Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation StatementJAMA. 2018;319(11):1134–1142. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1623

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