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Clin Dermatol. 2009 Jan-Feb;27(1):10-25. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2008.09.002.

The value of screening in melanoma.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Athens Medical School, Andreas Sygros Hospital, Athens 16121, Greece.


The incidence of cutaneous melanoma has increased substantially in most white populations during the past several decades. Despite improvements in the early recognition of melanoma and the use of novel diagnostic techniques that enhance our diagnostic capabilities, disease-related mortality remains a significant public health issue. In the absence of effective treatment approaches for advanced disease, the best means for reducing deaths by melanoma are screening as well as professional and public education. The role of population-or community-based screening remains controversial, but evidence from self-selected screening campaigns, health care professional surveillance, and specialized pigmented lesions clinics underscores the value of screening and early detection programs, particularly in high-risk groups. Annual screening campaigns coupled with intense media promotion have become commonplace in many countries, and despite their low yield of melanoma detection, the dissemination of educational material and information to the public during these events is important in increasing public awareness. Future directions should include using screening campaigns to target middle-aged and older men and persons of lower socioeconomic status, who suffer most from the burden of the disease and its associated mortality. On a worldwide scale, comprehensive educational and screening campaigns should be implemented or intensified in underserved areas and geographic regions with lower survival rates, such as Eastern European countries. A better understanding of the biology of the disease, already occurring with notable strides, will help us to define better those individuals who will benefit most from screening and early detection efforts. Technologic advances and new diagnostic modalities will afford a more reliable and vigilant surveillance of high-risk individuals, whereas the wide use of the Internet will enhance the distribution of relevant information to the public with the ultimate goal of achieving a better control of melanoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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