Regular sunscreen use is a cost-effective approach to skin cancer prevention in subtropical settings

J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Dec;129(12):2766-71. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.141. Epub 2009 Jun 18.


In many developed countries, total costs to health systems for cutaneous basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are among the highest of all cancers, yet the investment value of preventive measures remains unknown. Using primary data from a randomized controlled trial, we estimated the cost-effectiveness of a skin cancer prevention initiative based on regular sunscreen use. Compared with usual practice (discretionary use), the sunscreen intervention cost an additional USD 106,449 (2007) to prevent 11 BCCs, 24 SCCs, and 838 actinic keratoses among 812 residents over 5 years. These health outcomes required an annual average investment of USD 0.74 per person and saved the Australian government a total of USD 88,203 in health-care costs over the same period. Such community-based interventions promoting regular sunscreen use among Caucasians in subtropical settings can prevent skin cancer and related skin tumors in practical ways and with great cost efficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / economics
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / prevention & control*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / economics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control*
  • Cost Savings
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Keratosis, Actinic / economics
  • Keratosis, Actinic / epidemiology
  • Keratosis, Actinic / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Skin Neoplasms / economics
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / economics*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Tropical Climate


  • Sunscreening Agents