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Keywords:

  • malignant melanoma;
  • media campaign;
  • Mediterranean population;
  • nevi;
  • non-melanoma skin cancer;
  • risk factors;
  • screening;
  • ultraviolet radiation

Abstract

Background  Since the year 2000 a melanoma/skin cancer screening campaign has been organized annually in Greece in the context of the Euromelanoma Screening Day Campaign.

Objectives  We aimed to analyse the characteristics of the screened population, to recognize relevant risk factors and to identify the cases of histologically confirmed malignant melanoma (MM) in individuals with suspicious skin lesions.

Methods  An analysis of the completed screening forms from the years 2000–2004 was performed with respect to relevant demographic, epidemiological and clinical data.

Results  A total of 9723 individuals were screened, most of whom where below the age of 50 years (71%), female (59%), and of skin phototype II and III (76%). Sunburn during childhood was reported in 47% of participants, while 5% of the screened population had a personal or family history of melanoma. On clinical examination, 14.4% had actinic keratoses, 31.2% had dysplastic nevi, while 6.4% carried a presumptive diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer. In the 2003–2004 screening campaign, 19 out of the 171 clinically suspicious lesions were histologically proven to be MM, the majority of which (58%) were ‘thin’ melanomas (Breslow's thickness of ≤ 1 mm) of the superficial spreading type.

Conclusions  Our study suggested that, a melanoma/skin cancer screening programme in a Mediterranean country, supported by an intense publicity campaign, attracted many individuals at risk for skin cancer and detected mostly thin melanomas of the superficial spreading type.