Sun-protective behaviors in populations at high risk for skin cancer
Diana Y Diao,1 Tim K Lee1,2
1Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; 2Cancer Control Research Program, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Abstract: Over 3 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US annually. Melanoma, a subtype of skin cancer that can be fatal if the disease is not detected and treated at an early stage, is the most common cancer for those aged 25–29 years and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults aged 15–29 years. The primary carcinogen for the genesis of skin cancers is ultraviolet light from solar radiation and tanning beds. In spite of massive health campaigns to raise public awareness on ultraviolet radiation, sun-protective practices still fall behind. A plausible explanation is the lack of behavioral change in the populations at risk; in this review article, we examine sun-protective behavior in the four high-risk skin cancer groups: skin cancer survivors, individuals with a family history of melanoma, individuals with physical characteristics associated with skin cancer risk, and organ transplantation patients. Findings in the literature demonstrate that increased knowledge and awareness does not consequently translate into behavioral changes in practice. Behavior can differ as a result of different attitudes and beliefs, depending on the population at risk. Thus, intervention should be tailored to the population targeted. A multidisciplinary health team providing consultation and education is required to influence these much needed changes.
Keywords: skin cancer, melanoma, risk, prevention, behaviour
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