A large international survey on sun exposure behaviors and skin cancer detection found there are many imperfections and geographical inequalities in primary and secondary prevention of skin cancer. This information could help inform future awareness campaigns developed to address the global need to reduce mid- and long-term development of skin cancer.
The study was published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology by researchers from La Roche-Posay and the George Washington University (GW) Department of Dermatology. With nearly 20,000 participants around the world, this is one of the largest international studies on consumer sun protections and behaviors of its kind, yielding startling statistics.
Survey results indicate that 88 percent of those questioned were aware of the risks of developing skin cancer when exposed without protection to the sun. However, just 1 in 2 respondents has ever consulted a dermatologist for a mole screening and 4 in 10 people don’t think to protect themselves from the sun outside of vacation.
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer. Although most skin cancers are basal cell or squamous cell, and tend to be detected early before they spread, the potential still exists for these cancers to cause more significant issues. And of course, melanoma is a particularly nasty type of skin cancer which can spread throughout the body if not detected.
While we want to make sure we get some natural vitamin D from the sun, my typical recommendation when going to the pool or beach is to wait until you have been outside 15-20 minutes before applying sunscreen. This is enough time to get some vitamin D, and other health benefits from the sun, but no so much that skin damage should be an issue. Using an SPF of at least 15, and often 30 or 45, is a safe bet. In fact, I recommend that people use an oil-free moisturizer on the face every day, which should include SPF 15. Many people do not consider sun exposure in daily activities, but over the decades sun damage can definitely occur in this way.