On December 1st, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a misleading report on visual skin cancer screenings that is causing public confusion and may jeopardize skin health across the nation.
The USPSTF has confusingly stated evidence was insufficient “to assess the balance of benefits and harms of using a whole-body skin examination by a primary care clinician or patient skin self-examination” to detect skin cancer in the general adult population. They cannot determine whether skin screenings are effective or ineffective and seemingly infer they are unneeded. It also needlessly states it found evidence that visual skin cancer screening can possibly lead to misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis, a common sense possibility facing a patient whenever visiting any kind of medical or dental professional.
These “findings” may dangerously lead people to seek fewer skin exams while also developing a greater chance of being diagnosed with advanced, deadly skin cancer.
Dr. LeBlanc is urging you to know that annual full-body skin checks and regular visits to a board-certified dermatologist as well as frequent self-exams are essential to catching any potential cancers in their earliest stages. Doing so is the most predictive factor in determining chances of skin cancer-related deaths.
When detected early, the depth of invasion in melanoma, the most common fatal form of skin cancer, is less, yielding a higher survival rate in these patients. Even in non-fatal skin cancers, the smaller the size of cancer at diagnosis typically means a less complex procedure for removal/reconstruction and far less disfigurement.
Nearly four million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, the most common form of cancer in the United States, so you can never be too careful when it comes to your skin’s health.
If you notice anything unusual in regard to your skin, please contact a dermatologist immediately. We also recommend you visit your dermatologist for general check-ups at least once a year.