American Academy of Dermatology's skin cancer screening programme effective in helping detect skin cancer early

August 4, 2018


Background: The incidence of melanoma is rising faster than that of any other preventable cancer in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology has sponsored free skin cancer education and screenings conducted by volunteer dermatologists in the United States since 1985.

Objective: We aimed to assess the American Academy of Dermatology's national skin cancer screening program from 1986 to 2014 by analyzing the risk factor profile, access to dermatologic services, and examination results.

Methods: We conducted several detailed statistical analyses of the screening population.

Results: From 1986 to 2014, records were available for 2,046,531 screenings, 1,963,141 (96%) of which were subjected to detailed analysis. Men comprised 38% of all participants. The number of annual screenings reached approximately 100,000 in 1990 and remained relatively stable thereafter. From 1991 to 2014 (data for 1995, 1996 and 2000 were unavailable), clinical diagnoses were rendered for 20,628 melanomas, 156,087 dysplastic nevi, 32,893 squamous cell carcinomas, and 129,848 basal cell carcinomas. Only 21% of screenees had a regular dermatologist. Those with a clinical diagnosis of skin cancer were more likely than the general screening population to be uninsured.

Limitations: Inability to verify clinical diagnoses histopathologically.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the SPOTme program has detected thousands of skin cancers that may have gone undetected or experienced a delay in detection.


Okhovat, J., Beaulieu, D., Tsao, H., Halpern, A. C., Michaud, D. S., Shaykevich, S., & Geller, A. C. (2018). The first 30 years of the American Academy of Dermatology skin cancer screening program: 1985-2014. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2018.05.1242

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