New sunscreen labeling requirements provide groundwork for educating patients

August 1, 2012

Photoprotection with use of sunscreens is an important strategy for preventing melanoma, and thanks to the new rules on sunscreen labeling that will take effect at the end of 2012, counseling patients on appropriate sunscreen selection will now be easier, says Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S.

Key Points

New York - Photoprotection with use of sunscreens is an important strategy for preventing melanoma, and thanks to the new rules on sunscreen labeling that will take effect at the end of 2012, counseling patients on appropriate sunscreen selection will now be easier, says Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., M.S.

Discussing advances in photoprotection at the 2012 Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference, Dr. Rigel noted that while there have been numerous studies undertaken to investigate the efficacy of sunscreen use for preventing melanoma, they've produced conflicting results. However, the findings need to be interpreted in light of the limitations of the research, as the studies were retrospective, may have been affected by recall bias on sunscreen use, and were based on use of older sunscreen products that were not as effective as more contemporary formulations, he says.

"This is the first prospective, randomized study looking at the efficacy of sunscreens for melanoma prevention, and although it enrolled a relatively small number of patients, the treatment benefit was still statistically significant," Dr. Rigel says. "Therefore, the bottom line is that for the first time, we can tell patients with the assuredness of evidence from a well-designed study that regular use of sunscreen lowers the risk of melanoma."