In this issue of The Melanoma Letter, Dr. Shawn Allen presents a thorough, balanced overview of this complicated and clinically important topic. While presenting the issues raised against widespread screening, Dr. Allen explains why it is so intuitively attractive for melanoma. He also summarizes recent studies supporting melanoma screening that were unfortunately not yet available or not considered when the USPSTF made its latest recommendations.
In a companion piece, Dr. Allen explores the integrally related concept of overdiagnosis. Acknowledging the growing recognition in both the scientific literature and the public media that overdiagnosis is a legitimate concern, he calls for tempering our approach to cancer screening in general and melanoma screening in particular. The very ease with which melanoma lends itself to early detection by simple visual inspection holds both the promise of effective screening and the risk of overdiagnosis.