All summer long, we are constantly reminded to lather up to reduce the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. But on a clinical level, should you be doing anything more than meticulously applying sunscreen and adequately hydrating yourself? Turns out, the answer is no.
The US Preventive Services Task Force updated the screening for skin cancer last week for the first time since 2001 and explicitly stated that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of visual skin examination by a clinician to screen for skin cancer in adults. Essentially, the USPS Task Force is saying that performing regular full body scans or harping on the details of a semi-suspicious lesion found on a physical exam can result in a high rate of unnecessary biopsies, cosmetic adverse effects and over-diagnosing or over-treating a lesion.
Do you know a melanoma when you see one? You can. Every dermatologist assesses the lethality of a lesion using an A, B, C, D and E screening: Asymmetry, Border, Color, Depth, Evolution. Varying sizes, shapes and colors can be more telling for a malignant lesion vs. a non-malignant one.
The best bet is to keep practicing safe sun tips as we’ve discussed before, and people with more fair skin or a family history of skin cancer should always be more cautious.