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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Jul;57(1):60-6. Epub 2007 May 9.

Risk factors for presumptive melanoma in skin cancer screening: American Academy of Dermatology National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening Program experience 2001-2005.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.



Since its inception in 1985, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening Program has strived to enhance early detection of cutaneous malignant melanoma (MM) by providing nationwide skin cancer education campaigns in combination with free skin cancer screenings.


To analyze the AAD screening data from 2001 to 2005 in order to identify factors associated with MM detection, and thereby derive a model of increased likelihood for MM detection through visual skin examinations at screenings.


Patients completed a standardized AAD pre-screening form with historical and phenotypic information. Clinicians then recorded suspected clinical findings noted at visual skin examination. Statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS 14 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Ill).


Five factors, which can be remembered with the acronym HARMM, independently increased the likelihood of suspected MM being found in the 362,804 persons screened: History of previous melanoma (odds ratio [OR] = 3.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.9-3.8); Age over 50 (OR = 1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.3); Regular dermatologist absent (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.3-1.5); Mole changing (OR = 2.0; 95% CI, 1.9-2.2); and Male gender (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.3-1.5). Individuals at highest risk (4 or 5 factors) comprised only 5.8% of the total population, yet accounted for 13.6% of presumptive MM findings, and were 4.4 times (95% CI, 3.8-5.1) more likely to be diagnosed with suspected MM than individuals at lowest risk (0 or 1 factor). Receipt of a total skin examination at screening independently increased the likelihood for identifying suspected MM (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.3-1.6). However, significantly fewer screenees in the highest risk group versus those in the lowest risk group underwent total skin examinations (53.7% vs 62.5%).


Risk factors studied limited to variables collected in screenee enrollment form.


A higher-risk subgroup of the skin cancer screening population can be identified through assessment of MM risk factors using the HARMM criteria. Refocusing efforts to provide a total skin examination to those individuals with multiple risk factors has the potential to both reduce costs and increase yields for suspected MM in future mass screening initiatives.

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