Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Skin cancer and visual screenings

Maryland skin cancer patients should be aware that there is reason to doubt the effectiveness of current visual screening methods, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. On Dec. 1, 2015, the USPSTF released some of its findings on visual skin cancer screening in adults without any symptoms of skin cancer. The task force prioritized melanoma screening outcomes when it generated the report.

After a systematic review, the USPSTF determined that the current evidence for visual skin exams as a basis for the detection of melanoma in asymptomatic adult patients is not sufficient. More research is necessary in order to understand the balance between the harms and benefits of clinical skin exams. Patients are urged to speak with their doctors if they have concerns about their skin. The task force also found that the current body of research related to the defectiveness of full-body visual screenings is not enough to link the practice with reductions in mortality or morbidity.

The 2015 findings come as an update to the draft recommendation the USPSTF made in 2009. This statement also came to the conclusion that it was not possible to assess the balance of harms and benefits for visual skin cancer screenings with the existing evidence. Patient self-examination was not addressed in the statement, except to explain that the USPSTF gives guidance to medical professionals, not to patients.

A failure to diagnose is a common basis of medical malpractice lawsuits. If someone has experienced harmful and unnecessary or delayed treatment as a result of a skin cancer visual screening, such a lawsuit may be one way to seek compensation. An attorney who has experience with this type of litigation can assist in determining whether such failure constituted negligence on the part of the health care practitioner.

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