07 May 2012

AADA responds to USPSTF recommendations on sun-protection counseling

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 7, 2012) —
Statement from Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD
President, American Academy of Dermatology Association

The American Academy of Dermatology Association commends the USPSTF for recognizing the importance of behavioral counseling on skin cancer prevention for children, adolescents and young adults. Melanoma is now the second-most-common form of cancer for those 15-29 years old, with rates continuing to increase, especially in females from this age group.1,2 The Academy greatly appreciates that the USPSTF recognizes these alarming statistics, as well as the growing body of scientific literature, and is recommending behavioral counseling for children, adolescents and young adults, particularly with fair skin. We believe that early counseling will yield healthier lifelong habits regarding exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun and indoor tanning devices that will drastically decrease the incidence of skin cancer in the future.

The Academy strongly supports the USPSTF’s recommendation for counseling children, adolescents and young adults; however, we firmly believe that behavior counseling is essential for all populations, including the adult population. As stated in the USPSTF’s February 2011 evidence report, increasing intermittent sun exposure in childhood and during one’s lifetime is associated with an increased risk of both squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, and sunbathing vacations during both childhood and adulthood statistically increase the risk for melanoma.3 Current statistics also indicate that Caucasians and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.4

In addition, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2 million people annually, with current estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.5,6

While we recognize the challenges associated with counseling the adult population on safer practices associated with UVR from the sun and indoor tanning, and the limitations of published clinical trials, we believe there is benefit in counseling Americans of all ages about the dangers of UVR exposure and the importance of consistent sun-protection practices. Given this, we will continue our efforts to educate the public on skin cancer prevention, and encourage our members to conduct additional research in this important area.

Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. A sister organization to the Academy, the American Academy of Dermatology Association is the resource for government affairs, health policy and practice information for dermatologists, and plays a major role in formulating policies that can enhance the quality of dermatologic care. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1 (888) 462-DERM (3376) or Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).

1 Linos E, Swetter S, Cockburn MG, Colditz GA, Clarke CA. Increasing burden of melanoma in the United States. J Invest Derm. 8 January 2009 doi:10.1038/jid.2008.423. 
2 Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents & Young Adults. SEER AYA Monograph Pages 53-57. 2007. 
3 Lin JS, Eder M, Weinmann S, Zuber SP, Beil TL, Plaut D, Lutz K. Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Skin Cancer: A review of the evidence for the U.S. Preventative Health Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med 2011;154:190-201. 
4 Melanoma of the Skin, Cancer Fact Sheets, National Cancer Institute, SEER database, 2007.
5 Rogers HW, Weinstock MA, Harris AR et al. Incidence estimate of nonmelanoma skin cancer in the United States, 2006. Arch Dermatol 2010; 146(3):283-287. 
6 Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010; 146(3):279-82.