For the first time, the Surgeon General issued a warning about the effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in causing cancer. Issuing a Call to Action on Monday, the Surgeon General recommended five strategic goals to support skin cancer prevention in the United States:
- Increase opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings
- Provide individuals with the information they need to make informed, healthy choices about UV radiation exposure
- Promote policies that advance the national goal of preventing skin cancer
- Reduce harms from indoor tanning
- Strengthen research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US with nearly five million people treated annually for some form of the disease at an estimated annual cost of $8.1 billion. That is a huge impact for a disease that is highly preventable through healthy choices around UV exposure. However, many patients do not know the risks or how to make informed decisions to prevent the disease. This is a great opportunity for practices to use messaging to educate patients and provide them with the information they need to stay protected.
What can you say to patients in those messages? The Surgeon General recommends these sun protection strategies for individuals and families:
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing
- Seek shade, especially during midday hours
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15+ to protect any exposed skin; remember that sunscreen is most effective when used in combination with other methods
For more information, check out the Surgeon General’s consumer booklet about preventing skin cancer HERE.