MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Michael Pignone MD MPH
Task Force member
Professor of medicine and Inaugural Chair
Department of Internal Medicine
Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin.
Editor’s note: Dr. Pignone discusses the recent US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement on the effectiveness of screening for skin cancer with a clinical visual skin examination
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this recommendation?
How Does the USPSTF Grade Preventive Services?
Response: The Task Force’s primary concern is the health of Americans, and all of our recommendations are based on an assessment of the evidence of both the benefits and harms of a particular preventive service. For this recommendation statement, we looked at all available evidence on a visual skin exam, including studies of exams conducted by both primary care clinicians and dermatologists, to see how effective this exam was at preventing death from skin cancer. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to know with certainty whether or not a visual skin exam leads to a reduction in death from skin cancer, which resulted in the Task Force issuing an I statement. The Task Force encourages more research that could provide future evidence on the effectiveness of visual screening to prevent death from skin cancer.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: As with any test, patients and their doctors must balance the benefits and risks of screening. After reviewing the current evidence on the effectiveness of screening for skin cancer with a full-body skin exam by a clinician, the Task Force concluded that there was simply not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening, so instead we are calling for more research. Anyone who is concerned about getting skin cancer or about any changes to their skin should talk to their doctor. It’s also important to note that the Task Force’s statement does not apply to people who have a history of pre-cancerous or cancerous skin lesions or those at very high risk of skin cancer, such as those with a family history of skin cancer syndromes.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: When the Task Force issues an I statement, it does not mean that we are recommending against screening. It means that we determined that the current available evidence was insufficient to recommend for or against screening for skin cancer.”
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