What is the role of sunscreen in the prevention of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC)?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Patients who are at risk for cSCC but are not able to avoid sun exposure should use sunscreen scrupulously when outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 30 minutes during acute sun exposure. Several randomized, controlled clinical trials have shown a protective role for the daily application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen in the prevention of new actinic keratoses and new cSCC. [60, 62, 63]

The efficacy of UV protection is measured by its sun protection factor (SPF), which is the ratio of the least amount of UVB radiation that will induce erythema on covered skin to the amount of UVB required to generate the same amount of erythema on uncovered skin. It is often described as the amount of additional time a person can spend in the sun with protection versus without protection. For patients at risk for cSCC, the minimum recommended SPF is 30 or higher.

All patients should be advised to protect their eyelids from sun exposure. Physical sunblocks with the active ingredients of zinc oxide or titanium oxide provide the most complete protection from UVA and UVB rays. [64] Alternatively, a combination chemical sunblock of octocrylene, ecamsule, and avobenzone also provides excellent broad-spectrum UV protection. [65]


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