Because of insufficient evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF’s) 2023 skin cancer recommendations advise that “the balance of benefits and harms for visual skin examination by a clinician to screen for skin cancer in asymptomatic adolescents and adults cannot be determined.” For breast cancer, the USPSTF’s 2023 recommendation stated that all women should get screened every other year, starting at age 40.
The skin cancer screening guideline does not apply to “symptomatic patients, including those who present with a suspicious skin lesion, or those already under surveillance because of a high risk of skin cancer, such as persons with a familial syndrome.” The breast cancer screening recommendation applies to “cisgender women and all other persons assigned female at birth (including transgender men and nonbinary persons) aged 40 years or older at average risk of breast cancer.”
“New and more inclusive science about breast cancer in people aged younger than 50 has enabled us to expand our prior recommendation and encourage all women to get screened every other year starting at age 40,” Carol Mangione, MD, MSPH, USPSTF’s immediate past chair, said. “The new recommendation will help save lives and prevent more women from dying because of breast cancer.”
“A substantial nonrandomized evidence base suggests a clear association between earlier stage at skin cancer detection and decreased mortality risk,” researchers said in the evidence report for the skin cancer screening recommendations. “However, nonrandomized studies suggest little to no melanoma mortality benefit associated with skin cancer screening with visual skin examination in adolescents or adults and no association between routine clinician skin examination and earlier stage at melanoma detection. Evidence is inconsistent regarding whether clinician skin examination is associated with thinner melanoma lesions at detection.”
Cancer screenings are an essential service that can help patients receive necessary care. ONS has also sent a formal letter encouraging women aged 40 or older to have mammograms annually. Join ONS in advocating for access to cancer screenings and sharing resources to help people make informed decisions.