With summer under way, clinicians need to remind their older patients about the importance of skin-cancer screening. A recent analysis of 10,486 white men and women aged 50 years and older found such examinations to be quite low in this population.
The data—drawn from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey—revealed that only 16% of men and 13% of women had undergone a skin examination in the past year. These rates were considerably lower than the screening rates for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
The individuals who were particularly unlikely to have engaged in screening were aged 50 to 64 years, had a lower education level, had not been screened for colorectal cancer, breast cancer (women), or prostate cancer (men) and had no history of skin cancer.
“Consistent with prior research, overall rates of having a skin examination in the past year were very low…and leave considerable room for improvement,” noted investigators (Am J Med. 2010;123:439-445).
The authors added that practitioners need to determine whether patients have undergone various cancer screenings, perhaps by including a comprehensive set of relevant questions on intake forms or conducting such assessments during a general health exam.