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Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta studied 1,467 patients with melanoma diagnosed by a dermatologist and 553 melanoma patients diagnosed by a non-dermatologist.
On average, tumors diagnosed by dermatologists were thinner than those diagnosed by non-dermatologists -- 0.86 millimeters vs. 1 millimeter thick. When a melanoma tumor is still relatively thin (less than 1 millimeter), patients have a 90 percent cure rate.
Patients diagnosed by a dermatologist also had better survival rates.
"The two-year and five-year survival rates were 86.5 percent and 73.9 percent for the dermatologist group compared with 78.8 percent and 68.7 percent for the non-dermatologist group," the study authors wrote.