Primary and Secondary Prevention

Primary prevention can effectively be combined with secondary prevention (educational campaigns, screening, early detection) to reduce the burden of skin cancer and to decrease incidence, morbidity and mortality. These primary prevention measures may include:

  • Seeking shade, especially during midday hours

  • Wearing clothing and a hat with a wide brim to protect exposed skin

  • Wearing sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays

  • Use topical sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 30+ or higher

  • Avoid indoor tanning facilities or solariums

  • Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet

  • Stop cigarette smoking and other unhealthy habits


Research has shown that certain pharmacological agents may help to slowdown or reverse the process of photo-aging or carcinogenesis. The symptoms of photo-aging include prominent deep wrinkles, facial spider veins, dry skin, sun spots and an increased incidence of skin cancer. Although not yet in common use, chemoprevention as it is called, may be a realistic measure for many patients in the near future.

Various synthetic and natural agents are currently being explored. Please take note that more research is needed on this subject and it won't replace primary prevention! Many of these agents are present in daily diet and are supplemented or topically applied. These include:

    • Dietary protection provided by vitamin B3, carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbate, flavonoids, lutein, astaxanthin, Polypodium leucotomos or omega-3 fatty acids

    • Additional oral vitamins or supplements including calcitriol, tocopherol, coenzyme Q10, retinol and vitamin A derivatives

    • Aspirin and oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Cox-II inhibitors)

    • Topical agents including ubiquinone, vitamin B3 (niacinamide), retinoids (tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (diclofenac)

    • Lipid lowering statins and fibrates have shown some clinical evidence for efficacy in the prevention of malignant melanoma