Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Patient Education

11 Jan, 2024

Why Educating Patients About the Dangers of Skin Care is Important

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable types.  Despite this fact, mortality rates are rapidly rising.  One leading factor may be that most people ease off on sunscreen during winter months, when in reality, protecting your skin from the sun is a year-round job.1

Most people know that sunscreen (and protection from the sun in general) is a necessary part of your summer, but not everyone knows that protection from the sun should be part of your daily life, right up there with brushing your teeth.

With the rapidly rising mortality rates, nurses and other healthcare professionals “play an integral role in the diagnosis and management of skin cancer. Traditionally, nurses have been leaders in creating educational programs aimed at skin cancer prevention and have provided education on risk factors and preventative measures”.2

Patient education is especially important for those who are high risk, such as patients who reside in northern, more wintery states. Patients who only get short bursts of sun throughout the year have a higher rate of skin cancer as those who are in the sun all year long. This is most likely because those who are in the sun daily tend not to get sunburns.3 In fact, experiencing just one blistering sunburn as a child or adolescence can double the chances of developing melanoma.4While experiencing up to five sunburns increases the chances of skin cancer by almost 80%. Putting all this information together, and you come up with a rate of 1 in every 5 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer.

Your skin is not only your largest organ, it is also your most visible, which means screenings for skin cancer are generally painless. Educating your patients on best sun practices, such as integrating sunscreen into their daily routine or going outside during non-peak sun hours. Along with reminding your patients to include a trip to their dermatologist when they have their annual check-up, can help aid in lessening the high rate of melanoma.

If you aren’t sure where to start with educating your patients, Skincancer.org has some fantastic skin cancer prevention handouts. Together, we can start to turn the tide against skin cancer.


References

[1] Hurly, A. (2017, December 21). Unlikely Proposal: If You Wear Sunscreen in Winter, Your Skin Will Age More Slowly. Retrieved May 17, 2019, from https://www.gq.com/story/wear-spf-sunscreen-all-winter

[2] Lucas, A. S., Chung, E., Marchetti, M. A., & Marghoob, A. A. (2016, June 02). A guide for dermatology nurses to assist in the early detection of skin cancer. Retrieved May 09, 2019, from http://www.sciedupress.com/journal/index.php/jnep/article/view/9192

[3]Siegel, E. (2018, March 21). Why It’s So Shocking That Skin Cancer Is on the Rise. Retrieved May 09, 2019, from https://www.allure.com/story/skin-cancer-most-common-type-of-cancer

[4]“Skin Cancer.” Skin Cancer | American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer.

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