Objective:To examine the characteristics of persons attending a skin cancer screening clinic in Western Australia and compare the effectiveness of screening in different socio-demographic subgroups.
Methods:Questionnaires were completed by 5,950 self-selected participants who voluntarily attended the Western Australian Lions Cancer Institute's targeted skin cancer screening clinics during the period 1996-2003. A risk assessment technique was used to identify individuals at high risk of developing melanoma. Provisional diagnoses of suspicious lesions were given at the screening by a medical specialist. Suspicious lesions were later matched with histopathologically confirmed malignant melanomas reported to the Western Australia Cancer Registry.
Results:Fifty-seven per cent of attendees were female. The mean age of attendees was 53 years. The yield of suspicious malignant melanomas detected was 24.7 per 1,000 participants screened; the yield of confirmed malignant melanomas detected was 3.0 per 1,000 participants screened. Persons over 50 years of age were three times more likely to have a histopathologically confirmed malignant melanoma detected at the screening than those younger than 50 years (p=0.049).
Conclusions:The yield of confirmed melanomas detected by the Lions Cancer Institute is among the highest reported by a skin cancer screening program. This may have been attributable to the risk assessment technique used by the program.
Implications:A free community skin cancer screening program that targets high-risk individuals can detect melanomas.