(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Physicians should counsel children, adolescents, and young adults ages 10 to 24 years who have fair skin about minimizing exposure to ultraviolet radiation to reduce risk for skin cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended in Annals of Internal Medicine online May 8.

In updating its 2003 recommendation statement on counseling to prevent skin cancer, USPSTF performed a targeted literature search for new evidence that counseling patients about sun protection reduces intermediate outcomes (such as sunburn) or skin cancer. Also addressed were links between counseling and behavior change, between behavior change and risk for cancer—including sun exposure, indoor tanning, and sunscreen use — and adverse effects of counseling or sun-protective behavior changes.

Evidence published since 2003 suggests counseling interventions in the primary-care setting moderately increase use of sun-protective behaviors among younger patients. Low-intensity interventions based on appearance proved effective, such as showing patients photos taken with a UV camera to demonstrate the extent to which UV rays can damage the skin.

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The USPSTF recommendation applies to asymptomatic patients between the ages of 10 and 24 years with no history of skin cancer. “…Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of counseling adults older than 24 years about minimizing risks to prevent skin cancer,” members of the Task Force concluded.

The USPSTF recommendation on screening for skin cancer