Sun protection and skin cancer
A practical guide for what to tell your patients
Recent changes in the law banning under 18s from using sunbeds in England and Wales acknowledge that skin cancers are a major public health problem.1 Two to three million cases of skin cancer occur globally each year,2 although incidence varies with proximity to the equator. In 2008 there was an incidence of 54.3 per 100 000 melanoma cases in Australia, compared with an incidence of 19 per 100 000 in the United Kingdom.3 This highlights the need to consider modifiable risk factors in the prevention of skin cancers worldwide.
Many clinical specialties deal with skin cancer, but the teaching of preventive measures does not form a part of most curriculums. Studies have shown that educational interventions, particularly in younger people, have had a positive impact on short term behaviour with regard to use of sun protection and therefore on long term outcomes.45
Most patients have to rely on often inaccurate and sometimes