Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Risk: achieving consensus

Alan C Geller, Nina G Jablonski, Pagoto Sherry L, Jennifer L Hay, Joel Hillhouse, David Buller B, Larry Kenney, June K Robinson, Richard Weller, Megan A Moreno, Barbara A Gilchrest, Craig Sinclair, Jamie Arndt, Jennifer M Taber, Kasey L Morris, Laura A Dwyer, Frank M Perna, William M Klein, Jerry M Suls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Overexposure to the sun is associated with increased risk of melanoma, the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, and with non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States. However, there are only small indications of behavioral improvements in sun protection.
Observations: Earlier attempts to identify emerging themes in skin cancer control had largely been driven by single groups of experts such as dermatologists or behavioral scientists. In contrast, 19 experts from many disciplines including dermatology, behavioral medicine, public health, anthropology, and kinesiology, along with National Cancer Institute scientific staff, possessing a wide range of expertise in other cancers, discussed knowledge gaps, interdisciplinary perspectives on sun exposure, implications for skin cancer risk and other health outcomes, and new directions. Five themes emerged: (a) Expanding the definition of risk with a need for refined categories for skin physiology and population pluralities; b) Study of co-occurrence of risky sun exposure and other health-related behaviors; c) The need for nuanced messages for at-risk populations; d) Recognition and treatment of those at risk for excessive tanning disorder; and (e) Creating scalability for sun safety interventions. Interwoven within these concepts was the compelling question of how to maximize modern technology in the community and clinical setting.
Conclusions and Relevance: It was evident that integration of technologies will be required to sharpen messages to specific populations and to integrate them within multi-level interventions. Further inter-disciplinary research should address the themes discussed with the goal of building effective and sustainable approaches. Clinicians and public health experts need greater guidance on identifying higher-risk patients within a changing environment, communicating more refined messages to encourage and motivate behavioral change, and supporting efforts in the community and policy arenas that can coalesce to reduce the burden of skin cancer in the US and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Early online date8 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2017


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