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Skin cancer screening participation and impact on melanoma incidence in Germany--an observational study on incidence trends in regions with and without population-based screening.

British Journal of Cancer 2012 Februrary 29
BACKGROUND: The SCREEN (Skin Cancer Research to provide Evidence for Effectiveness of Screening in Northern Germany) project involved population-wide skin cancer screening with whole-body examination by general physicians and dermatologists. It was conducted in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein (July 2003-June 2004), but not in the German state of Saarland.

METHODS: The population-based registries of Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland provided data on melanoma incidence before, during, and after SCREEN to assess the association of skin cancer screening with incidence.

RESULTS: Approximately 19% of the Schleswig-Holstein population participated in SCREEN (women: 27%, men: 10%). A total of 52% of all melanomas diagnosed during SCREEN in Schleswig-Holstein were detected as part of the project. Melanoma incidence increased during SCREEN (invasive melanoma in women: +8.9 per 100,000 (95% confidence intervals (CI): 6.1; 11.7); men: +4.0 per 100,000 (95% CI: 1.6; 6.4)) and decreased afterwards (women: -10.6 per 100,000 (95% CI: -13.3; -7.9); men: -4.1 per 100,000 (95% CI: -6.5; -1.7)). Similar changes were not observed in Saarland that had no such project. The differences between the two states were greatest among women, the group with the greater SCREEN participation.

CONCLUSION: The SCREEN project had a substantial impact on melanoma incidence. This is consistent with the impact of effective screening for other cancers.

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