Ecological study estimating melanoma overdiagnosis in the USA using the lifetime risk method.

Adewole S. Adamson*, Geetanjali Naik, Mark A. Jones, Katy J.L. Bell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives:

To quantify the proportion of melanoma diagnoses (invasive and in situ) in the USA that might be overdiagnosed. 

Design:

In this ecological study, incidence and mortality data were collected from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results 9 registries database. DevCan software was used to calculate the cumulative lifetime risk of being diagnosed with melanoma between 1975 and 2018, with adjustments made for changes in longevity and risk factors over the study period. 

Setting:

USA. 

Participants:

White American men and women (1975–2018). 

Main outcome measures:

The primary outcome was excess lifetime risk of melanoma diagnosis between 1976 and 2018 (adjusted for year 2018 competing mortality and changes in risk factors), which was inferred as likely overdiagnosis. The secondary outcome was an excess lifetime risk of melanoma diagnosis in each year between 1976 and 2018 (adjusted and unadjusted). 

Results:

Between 1975 and 2018 the adjusted lifetime risk of being diagnosed with melanoma (invasive and in situ) increased from 3.2% (1 in 31) to 6.4% (1 in 16) among white men, and from 1.6% (1 in 63) to 4.5% (1 in 22) among white women. Over the same period, the adjusted lifetime risk of being diagnosed with melanoma in situ increased from 0.17% (1 in 588) to 2.7% (1 in 37) in white men and 0.08% (1 in 1250) to 2.0% (1 in 50) in white women. An estimated 49.7% of melanomas diagnosed in white men and 64.6% in white women were overdiagnosed in 2018. Among people diagnosed with melanomas in situ, 89.4% of white men and 85.4% of white women were likely overdiagnosed in 2018. 

Conclusions:

Melanoma overdiagnosis among white Americans is significant and increasing over time with an estimated 44 000 overdiagnosed in men and 39 000 in women in 2018. A large proportion of overdiagnosed melanomas are in situ cancers, pointing to a potential focus for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbmjebm-2023-112460
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Evidence-Based Medicine
Early online date19 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2024

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