Clinical Summary

Skin Cancer: Screening

July 26, 2016

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.

Population Asymptomatic adults
Recommendation No recommendation
Grade: I (insufficient evidence)
Risk Assessment Skin cancer occurs more commonly in men than in women and among persons with a fair complexion, persons who use indoor tanning beds, and persons with a history of sunburns or previous skin cancer. Specific risk factors for melanoma include having a dysplastic nevus (atypical mole), multiple (≥100) nevi, and a family history of melanoma. Risk of melanoma also increases with age.
Screening Tests The clinical visual skin examination assesses skin lesions using the “ABCDE rule,” which involves looking for the following characteristics: asymmetry, border irregularity, nonuniform color, diameter >6 mm, and evolving over time.
Treatment and Interventions Treatment of screen-detected melanoma generally involves excision, with or without lymph node management, depending on the stage at diagnosis. There are a variety of treatments available for squamous and basal cell carcinoma, including surgical excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, radiation therapy, curettage and electrodessication, and cryosurgery.
Balance of Benefits and Harms The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient and that the balance of benefit and harms of visual skin examination by a clinician to screen for skin cancer in asymptomatic adults cannot be determined.
Other Relevant USPSTF Recommendations The USPSTF recommends that children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10 to 24 years who have fair skin be counseled about minimizing their exposure to ultraviolet radiation to reduce their risk of developing skin cancer. This recommendation is available on the USPSTF website (

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents please go to