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Do You Know Your Lifetime UV Exposure?

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) raises skin cancer risk and increases photo-aging. Unlike other quick clinical estimations that calculate environmental cancer risk factors, such as determining “pack-years” when collecting smoking history, there are no such tools to help practitioners estimate lifetime cumulative exposure to UV. Lifetime exposure needs to account for the frequency and duration of UV exposures and the individual’s residential history, since UV index varies by geographic location. Typically this data is collected in lengthy telephone or face-to-face interviews which are impractical in the clinical setting.

Researchers developed an open-source, internet-based, self-administered questionnaire to estimate cumulative UV exposure (CUES) and assess for associations with sun protective behaviors and skin cancer. This questionnaire is designed to become a clinically-useful tool that is able to rapidly parse residential histories across a lifetime.

Over 1,000 participants completed the study questionnaire. The results showed that increased CUES was associated with a positive personal history of skin cancer in the overall sample. There was a decrease in annual CUES and a concordant increase in sun protective habits following skin cancer diagnosis, demonstrating the ability of CUES to detect changes in sun exposure after skin cancer diagnoses. The authors conclude that CUES provides an estimation that can be performed in the clinic waiting room using a patient’s own smartphone or tablet. CUES can then be part of the discussion with dermatologists on whether more aggressive sun protective measures are needed. The authors emphasize that while this tool does not replace clinical judgment to assess individual risk, a potential use of the CUES may be to motivate at-risk patients to reduce ongoing UV exposure through immediate, personalized feedback in the clinic.

Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: July 26, 2016

Source: NCBI (National Center of Biotechnology Information)
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / Zeitderfrau]