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Visual skin cancer screening may not be useful

People in New Jersey who want to avoid skin cancer should limit their exposure to ultraviolet rays from direct sunlight or indoor tanning booths, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The AAFP recommends that people use effective sun protection and take extra precautions between noon and 3 p.m. when sunlight is usually at its peak.

Although most skin cancers are not fatal, thousands of people in the U.S. die from melanoma every year. In 2015, about 74,000 people in the U.S. are expected to receive a new melanoma diagnosis, according to an estimate from the National Cancer Institute. Effective preventative measures for skin cancer are well known, but there are questions about effective diagnostic practices for skin cancer.

Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft evidence review and draft recommendation statement about visual skin cancer screening. The USPSTF determined that evidence is lacking about the effectiveness of full-body visual skin cancer screenings. Such screenings have no proven benefits, and they could lead to negative patient outcomes from misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis. Until more research is done, the USPSTF said that it recommends patients speak with doctors about any skin concerns that they have.

A patient who is misdiagnosed with a condition that they do not have can suffer from a range of different injuries. Many cancer treatments have negative side effects that could cause permanent harm to a misdiagnosed patient. At the same time, a patient's underlying condition could go untreated if they are misdiagnosed with cancer. An attorney may be able to help a patient who was misdiagnosed with cancer to file a medical negligence lawsuit that would seek compensation from the at-fault health care practitioner or facility for the damages that were incurred.

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