The Latest on Skin Cancer Screenings

To routinely screen for skin cancer or not to screen? That hot-button question still doesn’t have a solid answer.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found insufficient evidence to recommend annual skin cancer screenings for all adults. Currently, the Task Force is reviewing the most recent research findings and may (or may not) change this recommendation. MRA has funded research looking at the benefits and harms of population-based skin checks, and the results of this research will mature over the next year.

In the meantime, certain high-risk people should discuss with their healthcare provider about annual skin exams with a dermatologist or other trained professional.

Am I High Risk for Skin Cancer?

You’re considered high risk if you meet one or more of these criteria:

  • You have a family history of skin cancer.
  • You have a personal history (prior diagnosis) of skin cancer.
  • You have a lot of moles or freckles.
  • You have a fair complexion and/or have red or blonde hair.
  • History of sunburns and/or use of tanning beds.

Skin Cancer Screening: What to Expect

Most skin checks begin with a doctor (usually a dermatologist) visually giving your skin a once-over to look for suspicious-looking moles, freckles, lesions or skin changes. Your doctor may use a dermatoscope during this process. This magnifying device uses a special light source to illuminate features below the skin’s surface.

Screening with Total Body Photography

Total body photography (TBP) systems can aid melanoma screening for certain high-risk individuals, particularly those with many moles.

There are several advantages to this technology:

  • TBP can help physicians keep track of many suspicious lesions on an individual. Should your doctor detect a possible skin change at a later appointment, he or she can compare it to baseline images.
  • Doctors avoid performing unnecessary biopsies if the comparison indicates that the suspicious area really hasn’t changed.

If you’re at high risk for melanoma, check with your dermatologist to see if TBP is available. You also should check with you health insurance provider since the service may not be covered.

MRA funded a research award to develop a three-dimensional TBP system. Using more than 40 cameras, the system photographs the entire surface of the skin and creates a digital model in less time than current TBP systems. It is currently only available at one skin cancer clinic in the U.S.

Learn more about early detection and prevention: Educate yourself about melanoma.

You can read the full recap in our Scientific Retreat Report.



Melanoma News Round-Up, November 8

Enjoy your weekend and remember to be sun smart!  Here’s the latest melanoma news, plus a great skin IQ infographic, to keep you updated on all things melanoma:


Infographic via Myriad Genetics

Blood test could detect serious skin cancer spread via BBC News

The Economist honors cancer immunotherapy pioneer James Allison via MD Anderson News

History of Prostate Cancer Tied to Higher Odds for Melanoma via US News

The Pills of Last Resort: How Dying Patients Get Access to Experimental Drugs via the New York Times

5 things I now know about melanoma via Oncology Nurse Advisor

Distraught parents’ anger after doctors failed to spot 33-year-old daughter’s skin cancer two years before she died via the Daily Mail

Misdiagnoses and Sequencing in Melanoma via OncLive

The Simple Thing You Can Do Every Day To Look Young via the Huffington Post

Melanoma News Round-Up, August 23


Why are redheads more susceptible to melanoma?  Will an adhesive tape become an easier way to test for melanoma?  What has MRA been up to lately? Catch up on the week’s melanoma news with the stories below:

Why Redheads Burn: Gene Receptor Linked to Red Hair and Melanoma via ScienceWorldReport

Adhesive tape replaces a skin biopsy in new, noninvasive test for melanoma via MedCity News

MRA’s August Newsletter via MRA

Men ‘more vulnerable’ to skin cancer via BBC News

Alarming find: 29% of high school girls use tanning beds via USA Today

Teen Girls’ Yen For Indoor Tans Sparks Battle Over Risks via NPR

The Truth About Base Tans via Women’s Health