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January 2016

Cost-effective Melanoma Screening

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Editor, JAMA Dermatology
  • 3Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(1):19-21. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2681

Despite recent advances in immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapies for advanced melanoma, early detection remains the most effective means of preventing death from melanoma. In 2015, an estimated 73 000 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States, and approximately 9900 people will die of the disease.1 To date, early-detection efforts for melanoma in the United States have relied on self-detection and opportunistic screening. The recent experience in Germany suggests a role for organized population-based screening to reduce melanoma mortality. The Skin Cancer Research to Provide Evidence for Effectiveness of Screening program in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, was associated with a 40% decrease in melanoma mortality.2,3 In comparison, mortality in nearby Denmark and the rest of Germany changed very little during the same period (2000-2009). If reduction in melanoma mortality is sustained in the current program for the rest of Germany, then the benefit of organized screening in reducing mortality will have been replicated on a large scale.

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