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Using Visual Exams to Screen Adults for skin Cancer

Oct
17

Date: October 17th, 2016

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded its recommendation statement on skin cancer screening and cited that it did not get enough evidence that supports or is against using visual exams to screen adults for skin cancer. This involves only the asymptomatic adults that do not have any risk related to skin cancer. M.D., M.P.H David Grossman, the USPSTF Vice Chair said that it is wise to remember that this report does not pertain the people with cancerous skin lesions, history of precancerous skin or skin cancer syndromes or signs of skin cancer.

The most Cancer in the U.S

Cancer of the skin is most common in the United States, affecting both the men and women. It comprises of various types, most of them being diagnosable and treatable and are not fatal. However, one of its types, Melanoma, has higher chances of causing death, but it’s not so common.

How the Recommendation was developed

In order to develop their recommendation, members of the task force reviewed the present-day evidence on how effective skin cancer screening is, especially for melanoma. They used a clinician to perform a full-body exam. The USPSTF created an evidence summary in which they said that their extensive literature search did not identify controlled trials, but its evidence was generally centered on how mortality and skin cancer screening are linked.

For instance, one ecologic study made a comparison of melanoma mortality trends over a 10-year period in northern Germany, a place that has seen visual skin screening programs take effect while the nearby regions having none. The research findings were that melanoma mortality was adjusted at the rate of 48 percent by age and sex within that period. One significant finding was a drop in deaths from 1.7 deaths to 0.9 deaths per 100,000 persons.

The task force noted that the study had significant methodological limitations such as bias, inherency in observational study of the ecology and also the inability to separate clinical skin exam and the public education component. They also noted that the region already had a declining melanoma mortality rate before introduction of the screening program. They also questioned the plausibility of the observed effect.

As for the likelihood of skin cancer causing harm to its patients, the task force once again used limited evidence to note that screening has a substantial risk of causing over diagnosis, which leads to over treatment. For that matter, some of the harms that may result include psychosocial and/or cosmetic.

In conclusion, M.D., M.P.H Michael Pignone, a member of the task force summarized saying that they did not get enough evidence that full-body skin screening for cancer can lower skin cancer death rates. He went on to say that instead of recommending for or against screening, the task force asks that more research be done to get a better understanding.

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