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....but are docs helping?

September 27, 2013

Physicians mention sunscreen at a low rate during patient visits, even to patients with a history of skin cancer, according to a study by Dr. Kristie L. Akamine and colleagues at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Researchers used the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to identify patient visits to non-federal outpatient physician offices at US ambulatory care practices between January 1989 and December 2010 during which sunscreen was recommended.

According to the results, physicians mentioned sunscreen at about 12.8 million visits, or 0.07%. Physicians reported mentioning sunscreen at 0.9% of patient visits associated with the diagnosis of a skin disease. Sunscreen was mentioned most frequently to white patients and least frequently to children, the results also indicate.

The findings are concerning, according to the doctors, because children and adolescents get the most sun exposure of any age group, as they tend to spend much of their time playing outdoors. Up to 80% of sun damage is thought to occur before age 21, and sunburns in childhood greatly increase the risk for future melanoma, the authors noted.

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