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Recurrent Melanoma More Prevalent Than First Thought

Posted: April 19, 2006
Recurrent melanoma is more common than previously thought, with nearly 15 percent of people diagnosed with the potentially fatal skin cancer at risk of a second diagnosis within two years, a new study found.

About 6 percent of patients will develop a second melanoma within one year of the initial diagnosis, while 8 percent will be diagnosed with a second malignancy within two years, according to the researchers from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H.

This rate is more frequent than previously thought and points to the importance of surveillance and skin screenings, according to the study in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology.

"This is not surprising, but it gives us another stimulus to be very vigilant about picking up second and third melanomas," said Dr. Vijay Trisal, assistant professor of surgical oncology at City of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif. "Once it goes to the lymph nodes, we basically have no treatment." Trisal was not involved with the study.

Dr. Keyvan Nouri, director of Mohs and dermatologic surgery and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, added, "I don't think it [the new study] is going to affect the way doctors practice, but it's more data that says there's a real risk of recurrent melanomas."