Sun/Skin Cancer Counseling Recommended for Youth

Counseling moderately increases the use of sun-protective behaviors in 10- to 24-year-old patients

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that physicians counsel children, adolescents, and young adults who have fair skin about ultraviolet radiation exposure and skin cancer prevention, according to new recommendations published online May 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Virginia A. Moyer, M.D., M.P.H., of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and the other members of the USPSTF performed a targeted literature search to identify new evidence regarding the link between counseling patients about sun protection and a decrease in intermediate outcomes such as sunburn and skin cancer. The correlation between counseling and behavioral changes was also evaluated. The new guidelines replace the USPSTF's 2003 recommendation on counseling about skin cancer prevention.

The task force issued a Grade B recommendation for counseling fair-skinned children, adolescents, and young adults (aged 10 to 24 years) about minimizing their ultraviolet radiation exposure to reduce the risk for skin cancer. For adults older than 24 years, the current evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of counseling about minimizing risks to prevent skin cancer.

"In the current review, the USPSTF notes the significant studies done in young persons that, although using different approaches, describe a consistent picture of moderate behavior change in persons at the age of greatest vulnerability to ultraviolet radiation exposure," the authors write.

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