Skin Cancer Screening and Misguided Headlines

Don't be misled by the splashy headlines about the US Preventive Services Task Force statement that there's not enough evidence to justify annual skin cancer screening by a clinician. Or by the response of the American Cancer Society (ACS), which does not recommend such screening and has in the past recommended against self-screening. 

Whatever you do, don't let those headlines prevent you from doing all the screening measures that the ACS and others recommend to help diagnose skin cancer early, when it's most treatable. 

·    During physical exams for any reason, the more skin you expose to your physician the better the chance of something worrisome coming to attention, especially if on an area of your body that is out of your sight.

·    Become familiar with the moles on your body. If you have a partner, become familiar with his or her skin, especially moles on the back.

·    Learn the warning signs (they are easy for anyone to learn). 

·    Report worrisome skin changes (don't delay).

Statistics help us know what we know. As a Healthy Survivor, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of specific studies and of task-force guidelines. Remember that many interventions don't yet have the statistical proof needed to say definitively that they improve the health of a population, yet that intervention may have value for you. It may even save your life. 

Sensational headlines impede Healthy Survivorship when they lead you away from proper action. Look beyond the headlines. Gain sound information before taking action.

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