Skin Cancer World News Round-Up
Skin Cancer Foundation Journal 2013
Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has recommended that everyone have an annual full-body skin exam performed by a physician. In 2012, A German skin cancer screening study- The largest ever conducted-found that regularly having total-body skin exams can cut melanoma deaths by more than 50 percent.
Over the course of this year-long program in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, doctors have found more melanomas than had been detected prior to the start of the program. This was not expected, since screenings typically lead to identification of greater numbers of skin cancers. What was more striking was how much earlier the melanomas were bring found. According to the researchers, this early identification slashed the melanoma death rate in half--very likely because tumors were thinner. As a general rule, the thinner the lesion, the easier to treat. Melanoma killed 43 men and 45 women in Schleswig-Holstein in the three years before the study, but just 23 men and 21 women in the post-study follow-up from 2006 to 2008.
The results were so impressive that in 2008, Germany began a national skin cancer screening program, offering people ages 35 or older a total-body skin exam every two years. The authors suggested that such large-scale screening programs are feasible and advisable around the world, and have "the potential to reduce skin cancer burden, including mortality."