Screening for Cutaneous Melanoma
Current data do not support widespread population-based screening for melanoma. While the incidence of melanoma is high, the overall mortality is low, and thus any potential benefit of screening the general population is hard to demonstrate. No randomized controlled trial showing reduction in mortality has ever been completed and, given the expense and time necessary for such a trial, probably will never be completed. The idea of skin screening remains appealing for this common, visible malignancy which is eminently treatable when detected early. Efforts should be focused on populations at particularly high risk of developing melanoma and on those at high risk of death from melanoma once diagnosed. Persons in kindreds of familial melanoma, and persons who have atypical mole syndrome, those who have a prior diagnosis of melanoma, or those who have diagnosed atypical nevi are all reasonable candidates for routine screening, based on lower-level evidence in the absence of randomized clinical trials targeting these groups. Programs targeting persons of low socioeconomic status and targeting white men over the age of 50 could address groups known to beat especially high risk of melanoma mortality.
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