Skin Cancer Screening- Pros and Cons

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Skin Cancer Screening Does Identify Problems…But Does it Lead to Over-diagnosis and Over-Treatment?

Is more screening for skin cancer better or worse for people? According to the articles linked and excerpted below, having primary care physicians (PCP) do the screening results in more screening rates yet the diagnoses are often “thin, in situ” melanomas.

Click the image below to enlarge this skin cancer mind-map:

Skin Cancer Mind Map

Here are some tips:

  1. No matter who does the screening, make sure he/she uses a dermoscope-
  2. If you have any of the “risks” listed below have regular skin cancer screenings-
  3. Most importantly, reduce your risk of skin cancer and a recurrence of skin cancer through evidence-based, non-toxic therapies-

I am a cancer survivor and cancer coach (different cancer). My conventional therapies (radiation and a bone marrow transplant) increased my risk of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Not to mention many sunburns as a kid at the beach. I have six of the “risks” listed above.

I take my increased risks seriously. Evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies can not only reduce my risks but repair some of the damage already done to my skin.

To learn more about other evidence-based therapies that can help prevent the development of non-melanoma skin cancer or relapse, please watch the short video below:


Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer at a Glance-

  • Risks UV Exposure, HPV, Genetics, Skin Pigment, Immunosuppression, Radiation Therapy, Age, Previous Skin Cancer,
  • Symptoms Itching, Bleeding, Shape (A,B,C,D,E).
  • Diagnosis Visual inspection (A,B,C,D,E), Skin Biopsy (Shave, Punch, Incisional/Excisional)
  • Prognosis- Staging-
  • Therapy Conventional, Non-Conventional, Integrative, Alternative

Melanoma at a glance-

  • Risks UV Exposure, HPV, Genetics, Skin Pigment, Moles, Immunosuppression, Previous Skin Cancer Diagnosis, 
  • Symptoms- Mole, Shape (A,B,C,D,E), Itching, Bleeding, 
  • Diagnosis- Visual Inspection, Skin Biopsy, 
  • Prognosis Staging, In-situ, I, II, III, IV,  Five year survival rates
  • Therapy Conventional, Non-Conventional, Integrative, Alternative

Have you been diagnosed with skin cancer, either SCC, BCC or melanoma?

If you have any questions, scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

PCP–based screening increases uptake among men, improves detection of thin melanoma

” Primary care physician–based screening may increase screening rates for melanoma among men and older individuals, according to a speaker at HemOnc Today Melanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies…

Screening also may improve the detection of thin, in situ and invasive melanomas

The pros of melanoma screening are:

  • that lesions are visible to the naked eye,
  • screening can result in early detection, and
  • earlier melanomas are thinner and can result in a higher cure rate;

however, cons include:

  • specificity and sensitivity of the test depends on the experience of screener, and
  • there is a risk for overdiagnosis.

US Preventive Services Task Force Updates Skin Cancer Screening Recommendation

“A US Preventive Services Task Force has concluded after careful review that current evidence is insufficient to adequately determine the benefit versus harm of having clinicians conduct routine visual skin cancer screenings…

The recommendation does not apply to patients who have had skin cancer in the past, those at high risk, or those who observe worrisome skin changes

However, they noted that evidence that could aid in assessing the overall benefit of routine skin cancer screening with clinical visual skin examinations was limited, and that evidence gleaned from intensive studies such as the Skin Cancer Research to Provide Evidence for Effectiveness of Screening in Germany that involved major methodological means, also proved insufficient over time…

Conversely, the task force observed that potential for harm exists such as unnecessary biopsies that could result in cosmetic damage to patients. Other harms include functional side effects, over diagnosis, and over treatment for lesions that do not become cancer and skin cancers that would not have harmed the patient or resulted in death…”

Leave a Comment:

Kylie Dotts says 6 years ago

It’s interesting how you mentioned ensuring that a dermoscope is used when you are getting tested. I would imagine that if you went to a skin cancer clinic that they would probably have everything necessary to identify and diagnose what it is that you have and how to best treat it. The important thing is going there and getting tested to ensure that you are safe and healthy.

    David Emerson says 6 years ago

    Hi Kylie-
    I agree with you. The most important thing is to be tested. The next issue to consider, according to studies, is that a dreamscape be used. This device is more effective than using only one’s eyes.

    Thanks for your input.

    David Emerson

Jean Markey-Duncan says 6 years ago

I was recently diagnosed with a In-Situ melanoma. I was surprised since I get a yearly skin check up. Is there anything I can do prevention wise and diagnostically besides staying out of the sun which I have done for years, to prevent more melanoma?

Is there a certain type of exam that I should expect or request? Most exams consist of a quick look see.

    David Emerson says 6 years ago

    Hi Jean-

    While this may sound odd, I consider a diagnosis of in-situ of any cancer as a good thing. The patient does not have cancer but often takes better care of him/herself. To answer your question about melanoma prevention I will answer two ways.

    Conventionally speaking, no there is nothing to do to prevent a diagnosis of melanoma. Other than check yourself regularly and reduce the amount of UV rays you are exposed to. Both of which you are doing.

    Non-conventional speaking, yes, there are several ways to reduce your risk of melanoma. Let me begin by linking a study about in-situ melanoma and your risk of secondary cancers.
    Subsequent primary cancers among men and women with in situ and invasive melanoma of the skin.

    “An estimated 750,000 melanoma survivors in the United States are at increased risk of subsequent primary cancers.
    The findings of the study should guide the development of strategies such as posttreatment surveillance, screening, and ultraviolet exposure education among melanoma survivors to improve cancer survivorship.”

    I don’t want to cause too much concern on your part Jean by posting the study above. As a cancer survivor who has undergone a lot of chemotherapy, radiation and an autologous stem cell transplant I too am at a higher risk of several different secondary cancers including melanoma.

    I lead an anti-cancer lifestyle through nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies comprised of curcumin, milk thistle, green tea extract, and anti-angiogenic nutrition.

    I find the above therapies to be inexpensive and easy to include in my day. Let me know if you have any questions.


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