A new guideline from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says doctors should start offering skin cancer prevention at 6 months, updating a previous recommendation for it to start at age 10.
Doctors should start early with skin cancer prevention advice when their patients are light-skinned, suggests new guidelines that bump that starting point back to the age of 6 months, UPI reports.
This recommendation, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, updates a 2012 recommendation that advised doctors not begin this education until children reached the age of 10.
For adults aged 24 and older, the task force recommends that doctors assess each patient’s risk for skin cancer and provide advice on how to prevent this disease on an individual basis.
Task force member Karina Davidson added, “We have more evidence now that tells us that counseling people to practice sun-protective behaviors can benefit some adults with fair skin types.” She is director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City.
“When deciding whether to counsel adults over the age of 24, clinicians should talk with their adult patients about their risk for skin cancer,” Davidson said in a task force news release.
Children and teens who are exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation are at greater risk for developing skin cancer in adulthood, the task force explained. This exposure is particularly risky for people with fair skin that burns easily, freckles and light-colored hair and eyes. Those who use tanning beds or have a history of skin cancer or sunburns are also at higher risk for the disease.
The new recommendations were published online March 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The task force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that make recommendations about screenings, counseling services and preventive medications.