27 Apr USPSTF Issues Skin Cancer Screening Statement
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
John M. Ruiz, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Arizona
Dr. Ruiz is the incoming editor-in-chief of the American Psychological Association (APA) journal, Health Psychology
Dr. Ruiz joined the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in January 2022
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, but it often does not cause serious complications or death. The Task Force’s recommendation on screening for skin cancer focuses on the effectiveness of visual skin exams for children and adults who do not have any symptoms. When reviewing the latest research, we found that there is currently not enough evidence to tell us whether or not screening people without signs or symptoms is beneficial. This is an I statement.
MedicalResearch.com: Are there subgroups of patients ie those with a family history of melanoma, multiple sunburns, immunosuppression for whom screening should be recommended?
Response: It’s important to note that the Task Force’s recommendation does not apply to people with a personal or family history of skin cancer or people with symptoms, like any skin growths or irregular moles with a change in size, shape, or color. People who have noticed changes to their skin, think they may be at greater risk for skin cancer, or have other related concerns should talk to their healthcare professional.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Readers should understand that after reviewing the available evidence on screening for skin cancer in primary care, the Task Force has concluded that there is not enough evidence to tell us whether or not screening people without symptoms is beneficial. That said, it is important that everyone continue to practice good skin care, since preventive behavior is the critical first step to reducing risk. The good news is that there are many skin-protective behaviors people can take to help protect their health such as minimizing sun exposure, protecting their skin with sunscreen and appropriate clothing when in the sun, and avoiding tanning beds. Everyone should also be sure to talk with their clinician if they see any unusual moles or skin discolorations.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?
Response: The places where people live, work, and play affect their access to quality care surrounding skin cancer risk, prevention, screening, and treatment. This is why we need more research on the effectiveness of tools that can measure a person’s individual risk for skin cancer. We also need more information about populations with a diversity of skin tones, as well as populations with differing access to healthcare options. Additionally, to better understand whether and when screening might be beneficial, we need more research on whether detecting skin cancer early reduces the number of complications or deaths, particularly for melanoma.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?
Response: The Task Force recognizes that although people with dark skin are less likely to get skin cancer, they are often diagnosed with skin cancer at later stages, when it can be more difficult to treat. We always consider how our recommendations can help eliminate racial disparities in healthcare. But for this recommendation, there is unfortunately not enough evidence on the effectiveness of screening for skin cancer in all populations, including people with dark skin. The Task Force is calling for more research in this area.
In the meantime, healthcare professionals should use their clinical judgment when determining whether or not to screen a patient for skin cancer. It is worth noting that we also have a related recommendation about primary care professionals counseling their patients around skin-protective behaviors.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Skin Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2023;329(15):1290–1295. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.4342
USPSTF Review: Skin Cancer Screening
Nora B. Henrikson, PhD, MPH; Ilya Ivlev, MD, PhD, MBI; Paula R. Blasi, MPH; Matt B. Nguyen, MPH; Caitlyn A. Senger, MPH; Leslie A. Perdue, MPH; Jennifer S. Lin, MD, MCR
JAMA Patient Page
Screening and Prevention of Skin Cancer
Jill Jin, MD, MPH
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