Cochrane Reviews

Cochrane Review: Screening for reducing morbidity and mortality in malignant melanoma

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Screening for malignant melanoma has the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease through earlier detection, as prognosis is closely associated with the thickness of the lesion at the time of diagnosis. However, there are also potential harms from screening people without skin lesion concerns, such as overdiagnosis of lesions that would never have caused symptoms if they had remained undetected. Overdiagnosis results in harm through unnecessary treatment and the psychosocial consequences of being labelled with a cancer diagnosis. For any type of screening, the benefits must outweigh the harms, and this must be demonstrated in high-quality randomised trials. Screening for malignant melanoma is currently practised in many countries, and the incidence of the disease is rising sharply, while mortality remains largely unchanged. This review assesses the effects on morbidity and mortality of screening for malignant melanoma in the general population.