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.
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.
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 100000 (95% confidence intervals (CI): 6.1; 11.7); men: +4.0 per 100000 (95% CI: 1.6; 6.4)) and decreased afterwards (women: −10.6 per 100000 (95% CI: −13.3; −7.9); men: −4.1 per 100000 (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.
The SCREEN project had a substantial impact on melanoma incidence. This is consistent with the impact of effective screening for other cancers.
Keywords: skin neoplasms, mass screening, incidence, melanoma, epidemiologic studies