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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Screening for Skin Cancer

Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

This document is a summary of the 2009 recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on screening for skin cancer. This summary is intended for use by primary care clinicians.

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Population Adult General Population1
"I" Statement: Insufficient Evidence No recommendation due to insufficient evidence
Risk Assessment

Skin cancer risks: family history of skin cancer, considerable history of sun exposure and sunburn.

Groups at increased risk for melanoma:

  • Fair-skinned men and women over the age of 65 years.
  • Patients with atypical moles.
  • Patients with more than 50 moles.
Screening Tests

There is insufficient evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of whole body skin examination by a clinician or patient skin self-examination for the early detection of skin cancer.

Screening Intervals

Not applicable.

Suggestions for Practice
Clinicians should remain alert for skin lesions with malignant features that are noted while performing physical examinations for other purposes. Features associated with increased risk for malignancy include: asymmetry, border irregularity, color variability, diameter >6mm ("A," "B," "C," "D"), or rapidly changing lesions. Suspicious lesions should be biopsied.
Other Relevant Recommendations from the USPSTF and the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services

The USPSTF has reviewed the evidence for counseling to prevent skin cancer. The recommendation statement and supporting documents can be accessed at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

The U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services has reviewed the evidence on interventions to reduce skin cancer. The recommendations can be accessed at http://www.thecommunityguide.org. Exit Disclaimer

1. Note: The USPSTF does not examine outcomes related to surveillance of patients with familial syndromes, such as familial atypical mole and melanoma (FAM-M) syndrome.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents please go to http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Copyright and Source Information

This document is in the public domain within the United States.

Requests for linking or to incorporate content in electronic resources should be sent via the USPSTF contact form.

AHRQ Publication No. 09-05128-EF-3
Current as of February 2009

Internet Citation:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Skin Cancer: Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation. AHRQ Publication No. 09-05128-EF-3, February 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf09/skincancer/skincansum.htm


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