Open Access Research article

Opportunistic screening for skin cancer using a mobile unit in Brazil

Edmundo C Mauad1*, Thiago B Silva1, Maria RDO Latorre2, René AC Vieira1, Raphael L Haikel1, Vinicius L Vazquez1 and Adhemar Longatto-Filho34

Author Affiliations

1 Barretos Cancer Hospital - Pio XII Foundation, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Faculty of Public Health of University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

3 Laboratory of Medical Investigation (LIM) 14 of Department of Pathology of Medical School of Sao Paulo University, Sao Paulo, Brazil

4 Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Sciences, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

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BMC Dermatology 2011, 11:12  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-11-12

Published: 6 June 2011



Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the white population worldwide. In Brazil, the National Cancer Institute (INCA) estimates that in 2010 there will be 119,780 and 5,930 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma, respectively. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of a mobile unit in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer in several poor regions of Brazil.


The diagnosis of skin cancer was accomplished through active medical screening in the prevention Mobile Unit (MU) of Barretos Cancer Hospital (BCH). The study population consisted of patients examined in the MU between 2004 and 2007, and their suspicious lesions were subjected to histopathological evaluation. Data were collected prospectively from standardized forms and analyzed.


During the screening, 17,857 consultations were carried out. A total of 2012 (11.2%) cases of skin cancer were diagnosed. The predominant histological type reported was basal cell carcinoma (n = 1,642 or 81.6%), followed by squamous cell carcinoma (n = 303 or 15.1%), Bowen's disease (n = 25 or 1.2%), malignant melanoma (n = 23 or 1.1%), basosquamous cell carcinoma (n = 3 or 0.1%), miscellaneous lesions (12 or 0.6%), and metatypical carcinoma (n = 4 or 0.2%). Only 0.6% of lesions were stage III. There were no stage IV non-melanoma skin lesions, as well as no melanomas stages III and IV, found.


It was observed that the MU can be a useful tool for early skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. This program probably is important, especially in developing countries with inadequate public health systems and social inequality.