Melanoma Screening Study Stokes Overdiagnosis Debate

Source: Medscape,  April 2022

Screening for melanoma at the primary care level is associated with significant increases in the detection of in situ and invasive thin melanomas but not thicker, more worrisome disease, new research shows.

Without a corresponding decrease in melanoma mortality, an increase in the detection of those thin melanomas “raises the concern that early detection efforts, such as visual skin screening, may result in overdiagnosis," the study authors write. “The value of a cancer screening program should most rigorously be measured not by the number of new, early cancers detected, but by its impact on the development of late-stage disease and its associated morbidity, cost, and mortality."

The research, published this month in JAMA Dermatology, has reignited the controversy over the benefits and harms of primary care skin cancer screening, garnering two editorials that reflect different sides of the debate.