August 19, 2019

Despite Increasing Skin Cancer Rates, Less Than Half of Healthcare Providers Discuss Sun-Safe Behaviors With Patients

NEW YORK  – While summer is drawing to a close, protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and UV damage is a year-round concern. But a new report published by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) finds that less than half of healthcare providers discuss sun protection, or the dangers of indoor tanning with their patients.

The findings, published in Preventive Medicine, came from a web-survey of more than 1,500 providers around the country who responded to questions about counseling patients or parents on skin cancer prevention and barriers to having these conversations. The researchers found that 48.5 percent of providers reported regularly counseling patients on skin protection and only 27.4 percent reported regularly counseling on indoor tanning. Common barriers to these conversations included lack of time, more urgent health concerns and perceived patient disinterest.

 “Each year in the United States, more than 3 million people are treated for skin cancer,” said co-author Sophie J. Balk, M.D., pediatrician, CHAM and professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Clinicians play an important role in talking to patients and parents about a variety of health topics, and skin cancer prevention is one that deserves more of our time.”

According to CDC and AAP, ways to protect yourself from sun exposure include:

  • Wearing protective clothing, hats and sunglasses
  • Staying in the shade
  • Regularly applying broad spectrum sunscreen
    • Apply a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapplying every two hours
    • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date - sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years
  • Using zinc oxide, an effective sunscreen, as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, top of the ears and on the shoulders
  • Avoiding intentional sun tanning and indoor tanning

 “We know that clinicians are pressed for time, but we also know that skin cancer is a significant public health problem, and it’s important that we create opportunities to regularly discuss prevention strategies with our patients, and with parents of young children.” said Dr. Balk.

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About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and more than 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.