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.
Patients diagnosed by a dermatologist also had better survival rates.
"These results suggest that increasing access to dermatologists, particularly for older patients who have higher rates of melanoma, may represent one approach to improving melanoma-related health outcomes from a health policy perspective," they concluded.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and can be fatal. Each year in the United States, more than 53,600 people learn they have the disease. In some parts of the world, especially Western countries, melanoma is becoming more common every year. In the United States, for example, the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to the National Cancer Institute.