Avoid sunburn. This is the main advice for the prevention of skin cancer. Targeted information is needed to ensure that people adapt their behaviour accordingly. In places where people are exposed to the sun, for example, or for certain groups of people. If this information is repeated for several years, people will adopt a safer approach to the sun. In this way, skin cancer can be prevented. This is RIVM’s advice to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Almost all skin cancers are caused by the fact that people are exposed to UV radiation from the sun during their lives. Years of exposure and sunburn are particularly harmful. A safer approach to the sun is therefore a solution that can reverse the rising trend.
The main message is to prevent sunburn. Especially in young children, sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. In addition, the environment must be designed in such a way that safe behaviour in the sun is the obvious choice. For example, this could be achieved by providing sufficient shade areas.
Advice for more effective information
If people become aware of their behaviour, they can change it. RIVM therefore recommends providing information via different media, in different places and for different target groups. In places where people are exposed to the sun, for example, such as swimming pools or on the sports field. Different target groups include (parents of) young children, outdoor athletes and their audience, and people who work outside.
It is important to repeat this information. In order to find out whether the information is effective, RIVM recommends that a group of people be asked several times about their behaviour in the sun. This will make it clear whether they have changed their behaviour as a result of the information.
In the Netherlands, 70,000 people develop skin cancer every year. This is more than half of all cancer diagnoses. The number of people with skin cancer has been increasing by 5 to 7% for years, depending on the type of skin cancer. Without measures, this figure will continue to increase. Part of this is due to the ageing population. Other causes are still being investigated.
This study into what is needed for an effective information campaign was conducted by RIVM on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Based on this information, the Ministry can make choices in its information campaign.