Reconstruction Department: Understanding the Risks and Prevention of Skin Cancer
Tracey Hotta RN, BscN, CPSN

Plastic Surgical Nursing
September 2011 
Volume 31  Number 3
Pages 129 - 131
  PDF Version Available!

As plastic surgery nurses, we know the importance of limiting ultraviolet (UV) radiation to decrease the risk of skin cancer. When talking to our clients, it is helpful to have some real statistics to help them to understand the importance of prevention. Here are some interesting facts that reinforce the idea of good skin health ( , retrieved June 5, 2011): * Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually (American Academy of Dermatology, 2010; Rogers et al., 2010). * One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime (Robinson, 2005). * Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined (Stern, 2010). * Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer. Approximately 65% of all squamous cell carcinomas arise in lesions that previously were diagnosed as actinic keratosis (Criscione et al., 2009). * Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the United States. Basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow (Howard, 2010a). * Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.9 An estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths (Howard, 2010b). * Between 40% and 50% of Americans, who live to age 65 years, will have either skin cancer at least once (National Cancer Institute, 2010). * About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun (Pleasance et al., 2010).Now that we have informed our patients about the skin cancer statistics, we can now discuss risks and interventions to reduce the incidence of skin cancer. The following is a list of risk factors that were retrieved from (retrieved June 5, 2011) and (retrieved June

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