Population Education in Preventing Skin Cancer: From Childhood to Adulthood

February 2010 | Volume 9 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 112 | Copyright © 2010

Ellen RM de Haas LLM MD PhD, Tamar Nijsten MD PhD, Esther de Vries PhD

Abstract

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in populations of predominantly Caucasian origins. As the main cause of skin cancer is excessive sun exposure among a sun-sensitive population, most skin cancers are theoretically avoidable, and prevention is an important topic for public health purposes. The development of skin cancer may be limited by effective primary prevention campaigns, causing people to protect themselves from the sun. In order to be effective, the right people need to become aware of the risks and benefits; they also need to be convinced that they can take effective protective measures. Secondary skin cancer prevention aims to avoid skin cancer morbidity and mortality and is, therefore, mainly aimed at early detection of cutaneous melanomas. Around the world, elderly men are the worst off in terms of melanoma mortality statistics and would be an important target group for secondary prevention. Several prevention initiatives have been developed, including awareness campaigns and voluntary skin cancer screening days. So far, few of these initiatives have proven to be successful in changing population behavior and/or skin cancer related mortality. Most of these initiatives appealed more to (young) women rather than the elderly males who would benefit most. In this review, various aspects of primary and secondary skin cancer prevention are discussed, including the results of some of the primary and secondary prevention initiatives.

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