Skin cancer screening has important primary prevention function

February 11, 2019


Background: The skin cancer screening program in Germany is used for early identification of skin tumours with the aim of a lower-risk removal and avoidance of progression.

Objectives: The aim of the study is to investigate the extent to which skin cancer screening (SCS) has an additional effect on dissemination of information on primary prevention.

Methods: This question was examined from the point of view of screening participants and dermatologists. The proportion of appropriately informed persons among persons who have been screened was determined based on a survey of a representative sample of the German standard population of 1004 persons; the provision of information on primary preventive behaviour was based on a survey of dermatological practices (n = 444). Both surveys were evaluated descriptively.

Results: Of those who underwent SCS (n = 397), the majority (74%) stated that information on protection against UV radiation was provided during the screening. Among dermatologists offering SCS (n = 424), 70% stated that they personally informed all SCS participants about measures preventing skin cancer, and 46% always or predominantly provided written material after conducting SCS.

Conclusion: In addition to secondary prevention, SCS also has an important primary preventive function; however there is potential for improvement, since about a quarter of the SCS participants do not receive any information on preventive behaviour from the examining physician. The extent to which this information is actually applied by the SCS participants should be investigated in a longitudinal study.


Krensel, M., Schäfer, I., Zander, N. et al. Hautarzt (2019).

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