By Richard Nelson, managing editor, August 01, 2011
For more than 25 years, thanks to the help of thousands of members, the American Academy of Dermatology’s skin cancer screening program has educated millions of people about the importance of sun protection and early cancer detection. Over the course of more than 2.1 million skin cancer screenings, the program’s volunteers have detected nearly 207,000 suspicious lesions, including nearly 24,000 suspected melanomas.
But are volunteers simply detecting skin cancers that would have been detected anyway? To answer that question, the Academy reviewed data from the last 10 years of the program and compared them with data from a Boston University study of screenings conducted between 1986 and 1999. As shown below, it found that both databases indicated that about half of all screenees would not have had themselves screened if not for the free screening.
The Boston University study also compared lesions detected by the Academy’s screening program with lesions reported in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry. It found that only 1 percent of lesions detected by the screening program were deeply invasive compared to 3 percent in the SEER registry. It also found that 1 percent of lesions detected in Academy screenings were known to have spread, compared to 10 percent of lesions in the SEER registry. Together these data suggest that screenings found cancers before they reached more advanced stages.
You can be part of the skin cancer screening program’s future success! Visit www.aad.org/scs to learn more.