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Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Although invasive melanoma accounts for only 2% of all skin cancer cases, it is responsible for 80% of skin cancer deaths. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma, the 2 predominant types of nonmelanoma skin cancer, represent the vast majority of skin cancer cases.
To update the 2012 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on behavioral counseling for the primary prevention of skin cancer and the 2009 recommendation on screening for skin cancer with skin self-examination.
The USPSTF reviewed the evidence on whether counseling patients about sun protection reduces intermediate outcomes (eg, sunburn or precursor skin lesions) or skin cancer; the link between counseling and behavior change, the link between behavior change and skin cancer incidence, and the harms of counseling or changes in sun protection behavior; and the link between counseling patients to perform skin self-examination and skin cancer outcomes, as well as the harms of skin self-examination.
The USPSTF determined that behavioral counseling interventions are of moderate benefit in increasing sun protection behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults with fair skin types. The USPSTF found adequate evidence that behavioral counseling interventions result in a small increase in sun protection behaviors in adults older than 24 years with fair skin types. The USPSTF found inadequate evidence on the benefits and harms of counseling adults about skin self-examination to prevent skin cancer.
Conclusions and Recommendation
The USPSTF recommends counseling young adults, adolescents, children, and parents of young children about minimizing exposure to UV radiation for persons aged 6 months to 24 years with fair skin types to reduce their risk of skin cancer. (B recommendation) The USPSTF recommends that clinicians selectively offer counseling to adults older than 24 years with fair skin types about minimizing their exposure to UV radiation to reduce risk of skin cancer. Existing evidence indicates that the net benefit of counseling 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. (C recommendation) The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of counseling adults about skin self-examination to prevent skin cancer. (I statement)
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Corresponding Author: David C. Grossman, MD, MPH (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Accepted for Publication: February 8, 2018.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) members: David C. Grossman, MD, MPH; Susan J. Curry, PhD; Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS; Michael J. Barry, MD; Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD; Karina W. Davidson, PhD, MASc; Chyke A. Doubeni, MD, MPH; John W. Epling Jr, MD, MSEd; Alex R. Kemper, MD, MPH, MS; Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH; Martha Kubik, PhD, RN; Seth Landefeld, MD; Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH; Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH; Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH; Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, MPH, MSEE.
Affiliations of The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) members: Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle (Grossman); University of Iowa, Iowa City (Curry); Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California (Owens); Stanford University, Stanford, California (Owens); Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Barry); Oregon Health & Science University, Portland (Caughey); Columbia University, New York, New York (Davidson); University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Doubeni); Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke (Epling); Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio (Kemper); Fairfax Family Practice Residency, Fairfax, Virginia (Krist); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Krist); Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Kubik); University of Alabama at Birmingham (Landefeld); University of California, Los Angeles (Mangione); Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts (Silverstein); Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (Simon); University of Hawaii, Honolulu (Tseng); Pacific Health Research and Education Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii (Tseng).
Author Contributions: Dr Grossman had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. The USPSTF members contributed equally to the recommendation statement.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported. Authors followed the policy regarding conflicts of interest described at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/conflict-of-interest-disclosures. All members of the USPSTF receive travel reimbursement and an honorarium for participating in USPSTF meetings.
Funding/Support: The USPSTF is an independent, voluntary body. The US Congress mandates that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) support the operations of the USPSTF.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: AHRQ staff assisted in the following: development and review of the research plan, commission of the systematic evidence review from an Evidence-based Practice Center, coordination of expert review and public comment of the draft evidence report and draft recommendation statement, and the writing and preparation of the final recommendation statement and its submission for publication. AHRQ staff had no role in the approval of the final recommendation statement or the decision to submit for publication.
Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the US government. They should not be construed as an official position of AHRQ or the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Additional Contributions: We thank Ernest Sullivent, MD, MPH (AHRQ), who contributed to the writing of the manuscript, and Lisa Nicolella, MA (AHRQ), who assisted with coordination and editing.
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