Skin Cancer Prevention

Prevention Needs to Begin in Early Childhood

Published online: Feb 22, 2006 News Pediatric Dermatology
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Individuals receive 50 percent of their total lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, according to a review article published in Pediatric Dermatology. Therefore, researchers are urging pediatricians to educate children and their families about skin cancer.

Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are a growing problem and the most rapidly growing cause of cancer deaths in the United States where tanning, indoor and outdoor, has become more and more popular. Further to this, researchers at the Center for Dermatology Research at Wake Forest University say that there is strong evidence for the relationship between indoor tanning and melanoma, as well as a relationship between UV exposure and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Reducing sun exposure by altering childhood behavior patterns will hopefully stem the rise of skin cancer, say researchers. Suggestions include the use of sunscreen and wearing of appropriate clothing such as hats for outdoor play, both at home and in school. And while these recommendations may seem familiar, they are now encouraging proactive measures from pediatricians. 

"We recommend that pediatricians counsel children and their parents about UV protection," states Dr. Mandeep Kaur, an Instructor at the Department of Dermatology at
Wake Forest.  Research shows that pediatricians provide skin cancer counseling at less than one percent of visits.  However, with statistics showing that primary school children receive more sun exposure than adolescents, it is imperative to start preventive measures early on in childhood.

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