Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the U.S., affecting an estimated 74,000 men and women in 2015, including about 9,940 who will die from the disease.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has announced that current evidence is still insufficient to precisely assess the perceived benefits and harms of a full-body visual exam used to determine melanoma skin cancer in adults, reveals the United Press International.
‘Scientists are still unsure whether current full-body screening procedures for skin cancer are safe or effective at preventing or lowering the numbers of deaths from the disease.’
Full-body screenings might not help patients with melanoma. Although it is recommended to get tested for different viruses or diseases, medical scientists believe skin cancer screening might not be effective.
Members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) revealed in their draft report that there is not enough conclusive evidence available to prove that regular skin cancer screenings are either beneficial or harmful to patients. They instead opted not to deliver any recommendations in favor or against regarding the practice.
"After an in-depth review of the benefits and harms of this preventive service, the task force found that there isn't enough evidence to know with adequate certainty whether a full-body visual skin screening exam by a doctor does or does not prevent deaths from melanoma," Dr. Mark Ebell, a task force member and researcher at the University of Georgia, said by email.
Additionally, the researchers found that skin cancer screening can cause potential harm to patients, which includes poor cosmetic results from unnecessary biopsies and scarring or other damages affecting feeling or range of motion.
This study offered limited evidence of harms from early detection. About 4.4 percent of screened adults had a skin excision for a suspicious lesion, with the majority of these biopsies failing to result in a cancer diagnosis. Overall, one case of melanoma was detected for every 28 biopsies performed.