Tracy Wolff, MD, MPH; Eric Tai, MD, MS; Therese Miller, DrPH
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. The majority of skin cancer is nonmelanoma cancer, either basal cell cancer or squamous cell cancer. The incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer has been increasing over the past 3 decades. In 2001, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for skin cancer by using whole-body skin examination for early detection of skin cancer.
To update the evidence of benefits and harms of screening for skin cancer in the general population.
MEDLINE and Cochrane Library searches from 1 June 1999 to 9 August 2005 for English-language articles; recent systematic reviews; reference lists of retrieved articles; and expert suggestions.
English-language studies were selected to answer the following key question: Does screening in asymptomatic persons with whole-body examination by a primary care clinician or by self-examination reduce morbidity and mortality from skin cancer? Randomized, controlled trials and caseâ€“control studies of screening for skin cancer were selected. One author selected English-language studies to answer the following contextual questions: Can screening with whole-body examination by primary care clinicians or by self-examination accurately detect skin cancer? Does screening with whole-body examination or by self-examination detect melanomas at an earlier stage (thinner lesions)?
All studies for the key question were reviewed, abstracted, and rated for quality by using predefined USPSTF criteria.
No new evidence from controlled studies was found that addressed the benefit of screening for skin cancer with a whole-body examination by a physician. One article of fair quality, which reanalyzed data from a 1996 study identified for the 2001 report for the USPSTF, provides limited but insufficient evidence on the benefit of skin self-examination in the reduction of morbidity and mortality from melanoma.
Direct evidence linking skin cancer screening to improved health outcomes is lacking. Information is limited on the accuracy of screening by physicians or patients using real patients and lesions.
The limited evidence prevents accurate estimation of the benefits of screening for skin cancer in the general primary care population.
CQ = contextual question; KQ = key question.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Wolff T, Tai E, Miller T. Screening for Skin Cancer: An Update of the Evidence for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:194-198. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-150-3-200902030-00009
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2009;150(3):194-198.
Copyright © 2017 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only