AADA responds to the USPSTF recommendations on sun-protection counseling

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The American Academy of Dermatology Association commends the USPSTF for recognizing the importance of behavioral counseling on skin cancer prevention for children, adolescents, and young adults. Melanoma is now the second most common form of cancer for those 15-29 years old, with rates continuing to increase, especially in females from this age group. The Academy greatly appreciates that the USPSTF recognizes these alarming statistics, as well as the growing body of scientific literature, and is recommending behavioral counseling for children, adolescents and young adults, particularly with fair skin. We believe that early counseling will yield healthier lifelong habits regarding exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun and indoor tanning devices that will drastically decrease the incidence of skin cancer in the future.

The Academy strongly supports the USPSTF's recommendation for counseling children, adolescents and young adults; however, we firmly believe that behavior counseling is essential for all populations, including the adult population. As stated in the USPSTF's February 2011 evidence report, increasing intermittent sun exposure in childhood and during one's lifetime is associated with an increased risk of both squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, and sunbathing vacations during both childhood and adulthood statistically increase the risk for melanoma. Current statistics also indicate that Caucasians and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population. In addition, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than two million people annually, with current estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

While we recognize the challenges associated with counseling the adult population on safer practices associated with UVR from the sun and indoor tanning, and the limitations of published clinical trials, we believe there is benefit in counseling Americans of all ages about the dangers of UVR exposure and the importance of consistent sun-protection practices. Given this, we will continue our efforts to educate the public on skin cancer prevention, and encourage our members to conduct additional research in this important area. 

For more information, contact the Academy at 1.888.462-3376 or aad.org