, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 406-428

Skin cancer-related prevention and screening behaviors: a review of the literature

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Abstract

Primary prevention and early detection continue to be of paramount importance in addressing the public health threat of skin cancer. The aim of this systematic review was to provide a comprehensive overview of the prevalence and correlates of skin cancer-related health behaviors in the general population. To achieve this aim, 91 studies published in international peer-reviewed journals over the past three decades were reviewed and synthesized. Reported estimates of sunscreen use varied considerably across studies, ranging from 7 to 90%. According to self-report, between 23 and 61% of individuals engage in skin self-examination at least once per year, and the documented prevalence of annual clinical skin examination ranges from 8 to 21%. Adherence to sun protection and screening recommendations is associated with a range of factors, including: female gender, sun-sensitive phenotype, greater perceived risk of skin cancer, greater perceived benefits of sun protection or screening, and doctor recommendation for screening. The literature suggests that a large proportion of the general population engage in suboptimal levels of sun protection, although there is substantial variability in findings. The strongest recommendation to emerge from this review is a call for the development and widespread use of standardized measurement scales in future research, in addition to more studies with a population-based, multivariate design. It is also recommended that specific targeted interventions are developed to increase the prevalence of preventative and early intervention behaviors for the control of skin cancer.