Kristine Kucera, PA-C, MPAS, DHS
Sunburns, Skin Aging and Skin Cancer: Surprising Attitudes
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is more common than melanoma, but melanoma causes the most skin cancer-related deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, cutaneous melanoma was the fifth most common cancer in 2022, with an estimated 99,780 new cases and 7,650 deaths. This year, it is estimated that more than 97,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed and approximately 7,990 people will die from melanoma. Although the number of new cases of skin cancer is increasing each year, a recent survey of more than 1,000 adults by the American Academy of Dermatology found that 61% are not concerned about developing skin cancer. Although skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, 48% say they are more worried about avoiding sunburn and 29% are more worried about avoiding premature wrinkles. Additional benefits of limiting ultraviolet radiation damage, such as wrinkle prevention and maintaining a more even complexion, can be leveraged with patients to help increase compliance with sun protective measures.
As dermatology practitioners, it is imperative that we not only perform thorough skin checks on our patients but provide skin cancer education. Specific recommendations for photoprotective strategies, such as broad-spectrum sunscreens, clothing, and sun avoidance during peak hours, are key to reducing rates of skin cancers. Understanding patient perspectives concerning UV risks can help us formulate our message to patients. In recognition of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, the AAD is encouraging the public to #PracticeSafeSun to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Kristine Kucera, PA-C, MPAS, DHS, is Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Texas Southwestern, Medical Center PA Program, Dallas, TX. She is a member of the DEF Advisory Council.