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Melanomas More Often Found By Dermatologists

Posted: August 25, 2009

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Dermatologist detection was also associated with thinner melanomas. "Including only invasive melanomas, the median melanoma depth for the physician-detected group was 0.33 millimeters, and for the patient-detected group the median depth was 0.55 millimeters," they continue. Patients whose melanoma was detected by a clinician were significantly more likely to have cancers thinner than 1 millimeter.

"These data suggest that minimizing the substantial public health and financial impact of melanoma may be aided by a full-body skin examination. While self-examination plays a critical role in early detection, prior studies have suggested that physicians, and dermatologists in particular, may be better able to detect melanomas with lesser tumor thickness. Because increasing tumor thickness is closely correlated with decreasing survival, it follows that complete examination plays an important role, particularly in high-risk populations," the authors write.

"Further research in this area, and in the cost-effectiveness of screening, may lead to important changes in practice that could potentially reduce melanoma mortality and improve patient outcomes," they conclude.

Editorial: Findings add to body of evidence for screenings

"In this issue of the Archives, Kantor and Kantor provide new data on the topic of melanoma screening," write Daniel G. Federman, MD, of VA Connecticut Health Care in West Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues in an accompanying editorial.