26 July 2016

AAD statement on USPSTF recommendation on skin cancer screening

Statement from Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, President, American Academy of Dermatology: —
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (July 26, 2016) — “In its Recommendation Statement on Screening for Skin Cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — a group that provides guidance for primary care physicians — has determined that there is not enough scientific evidence to make a recommendation about adults receiving skin cancer screenings from a doctor.

“The American Academy of Dermatology is disappointed with this recommendation, as dermatologists know that skin cancer screenings can save lives, yet we acknowledge the need for additional research on the benefits and harms of skin cancer screening in the primary care setting.  

“It is important for the public to understand that the USPSTF is not recommending against skin cancer screenings; it means the group did not find conclusive evidence to make a recommendation one way or another. Additionally, the public should know that this recommendation does not apply to individuals with suspicious skin lesions and those with an increased skin cancer risk, and it does not address the practice of skin self-exams.

“Melanoma accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, and nonmelanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma can have potentially devastating effects, including severe tissue loss, metastasis and death.  Early detection is vital in the fight against skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. When detected early, all forms of skin cancer – including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer – are highly treatable.

“The AAD’s SPOTme® skin cancer screening program has been in place for 30 years.  During that time, dermatologists have performed more than 2.5 million screenings and found more than 255,000 suspected NMSC lesions and 28,500 melanomas. We know that screenings, which are noninvasive, quick and painless, are the best tool possible to detect skin cancer early when it is most treatable.

“The AAD encourages everyone to serve as their own health advocate by regularly conducting skin self-exams. Individuals who notice any unusual spots on their skin, including those that are changing, itching or bleeding, should make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. In addition, individuals with an increased risk of melanoma — including men older than 50; people with more than 50 moles, or large or unusual moles; individuals with fair skin; and those with a history of skin cancer — should talk to a dermatologist about how often they should receive a skin exam from a doctor.”