Evidence Shows Community-Based Skin Cancer Prevention Works

Two bottles of sunscreen sit upright in the sand of a beach, with the ocean in the background. A survey crew takes measurements along a highway. A woman applies sunscreen to the shoulders and back of a young child as they sit on a beach.

Learn what the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) says about preventing skin cancer. The Task Force’s latest evidence-based recommendations and findings highlight several settings and approaches to consider for implementation of programs, services, and policies to protect people from too much ultraviolet exposure.

The Task Force issued skin cancer prevention recommendations for the following:

The Task Force found insufficient evidence to say whether or not the following skin cancer prevention strategies are effective:

Click on the links above for full Task Force recommendations, findings and rationale statements, information about the systematic reviews on which they are based, and more.

Task Force recommendations and findings are based on systematic reviews of the literature that are conducted by scientists and subject matter experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The reviews were carried out with Task Force oversight, in collaboration with a wide range of government, academic, policy, and practice-based partners.

What is meant by community-based skin cancer prevention?

The Task Force clearly describes the types of ultraviolet protection that were used in each of the settings and approaches. These definitions are provided on the web pages linked to above.

Why are the Task Force recommendations important?

As the most common type of cancer in the United States, skin cancer is an urgent yet often preventable public health problem (Lomas 2012; Stern 2010).

  • The number of Americans who have had skin cancer at some point in the last three decades is estimated to be greater than for all other cancers combined (Lomas 2012; Stern 2010).
  • Most skin cancers are non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell carcinomas, which are usually treatable but can be disfiguring and costly to treat (Machlin 2011; Guy & Ekwueme 2011).
  • Melanoma, one of the most common cancers among adults under the age of 40, can be deadly (Weir 2011). In 2010 alone, more than 61,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanoma, and more than 9,000 people died from the disease (USCS Working Group 2013).

In addition to the health burden, skin cancer treatment causes substantial healthcare costs for individuals, families, and the nation. The annual economic burden of treating skin cancer in the U.S. is $5.3 billion (Machlin 2011; Mariotto 2011)

What are the Task Force and The Community Guide?

  • The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health and prevention experts. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by providing evidence-based recommendations about community preventive programs, services, and policies to improve health. Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community prevention services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention.
  • The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) is an essential resource for people who want to know what works in public health. It provides evidence-based findings about public health interventions and policies to improve health and promote safety.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is mandated by the U.S. Congress to provide ongoing administrative, research, and technical support for the operations of the Task Force. CDC is therefore committed to working with the Task Force to systematically review the scientific evidence on population-based strategies to reduce the burden of preventable disease, injury, and disability.

For More Information


Guy GP Jr, Ekwueme DU.Years of potential life lost and indirect costs of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer: a systematic review of the literature. Pharmacoeconomics 2011;29(10):863 874.

Lomas A, Leonardi-Bee J, Bath-Hextall F. A systematic review of worldwide incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer. The British Journal of Dermatology. 2012;166(5):1069-1080.

Machlin S., Carper, K., and Kashihara, D. Health Care Expenditures for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer among Adults, 2005-2008 (Average Annual). Statistical Brief #345. November 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Mariotto AB, Robin Yabroff K, Shao Y, Feuer EJ, Brown ML. Projections of the Cost of Cancer Care in the United States: 2010-2020. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2011;103(2):117-128.

Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(3):279-282.

U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999 2010 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2013.

Weir HK, Marrett LD, Cokkinides V, et al. Melanoma in adolescents and young adults (ages 15-39 years): United States, 1999-2006. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;65(5 Suppl 1):S38-49.

Archived page

Content on this web page has been archived for historical purposes and is no longer being updated. Please go to The Community Guide home page or use the search engine to find more current information.