- The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued final recommendation guidelines for skin cancer screening Tuesday.
- The report, published in JAMA, concluded there is insufficient evidence to support that routine full-body cancer screenings are effective and the "potential for harm clearly exists."
- In 2012, 3.3 million Americans were treated for nonmelanoma skin cancer, according to an editorial post in JAMA Oncology reacting to the task force's guidelines.
The guidelines are fuel to the debate about being able to catch tumors early and avoiding unnecessary tests that could be potentially harmful. While the federally appointed task force says there is insufficient evidence to support visual screening for cancer, other medical professionals contend such screenings are valuable.
The cost for treatment of melanoma, one of the most common forms of cancer, increased to $8.07 billion between 2007 and 2011 from $3.57 billion between 2002 and 2006, according to the opinion post in JAMA Oncology, which claims the recommendation "largely downplays the importance of skin cancer screening."
In contrast from 2009 guidelines, which is when they were last updated, patients were not recommended to do self-exams.
Task force member and Dell Medical School researcher, Dr. Michael Pignone, told Reuters in an email, “We do know that there are potential harms, including over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatments that can lead to undesirable cosmetic results.”
President of the American Academy of Dermatology Dr. Abel Torres noted, however, "the USPSTF is not recommending against skin cancer screenings.”
“The American Academy of Dermatology is disappointed with this recommendation, as dermatologists know that skin cancer screenings can save lives, yet we acknowledge the need for additional research on the benefits and harms of skin cancer screening in the primary care setting," Torres said.
In May, a study published in JAMA Dermatology showed some online physicians from 16 direct-to-consumer telemedicine websites repeatedly missed major diagnoses like secondary syphilis, eczema herpeticum, gram-negative folliculitis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.