07 February 2013

AAD, ASDS, and ACMS respond to Consumer Reports article on cancer screenings

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2013) — 

Consumer Reports
ATTN: Customer Relations
101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY  10703-1057

Dear Editor,

In reference to your March 2013 article on the value of skin cancer screenings, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the American College of Mohs Surgery want to point out that there is increasing evidence that self- and physician skin examinations may result in reduced melanoma thickness at the time of diagnosis and lead to improved survival.1-7

Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.8, 9 We agree with Consumer Reports that skin cancer screenings are important for people who are at high risk (family history, history of sunburn, large number of moles, fair-skinned or heavily-freckled). However, unlike other cancers, skin cancer can be seen on the surface of the skin. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable. That’s why it’s vitally important for everyone to be his or her own health advocate by learning how to check the skin regularly and by seeing a board-certified dermatologist if anything is changing, itching, or bleeding.  


Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, President
American Academy of Dermatology

Timothy C. Flynn, MD, FAAD, President
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

Marc D. Brown, MD, FAAD, President
American College of Mohs Surgery

1 Pollitt RA, Geller AC, Brooks DR, et al. Efficacy of skin self examination practices for early melanoma detection. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18:3018–23.
2 Aneja S, Aneja S, Bordeaux JS. Association of increased dermatologist density with lower melanoma mortality. Arch Dermatol. 2012;148:174–8.
3 Halpern A. Melanoma early detection. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2009;23:481–500.
4 Aitken JF, Elwood M, Baade PD, Youl P, English D. Clinical whole-body skin examination reduces the incidence of thick melanomas. Int J Cancer. 2010;126:450–8.
5 Breitbart EW, Waldmann A, Nolte S, et al. Systematic skin cancer screening in Northern Germany. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;66:201–11.
6 Katalinic A, Waldmann A, Weinstock MA, et al. Does skin cancer screening save lives?: An observational study comparing trends in melanoma mortality in regions with and without screening. Cancer. 2012. doi:10.1002/cncr.27566.
7Katalinic A, Kunze U, Schäfer T. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany: incidence, clinical subtypes, tumour stages and localization (epidemiology of skin cancer). Br J Dermatol. 2003;149:1200–6.
8 Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Mar;146(3):279-82.
9 Robinson JK. Sun Exposure, Sun Protection, and Vitamin D. JAMA 2005; 294: 1541-43.