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AAD Releases New Guidelines of Care for the Treatment of Melanoma

Posted: September 13, 2011

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It is estimated that there will be 123,590 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in the U.S. in 2011 — 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive. Dermatologists agree that the treatment of noninvasive melanoma (in situ) and invasive melanoma have some differences but also some key similarities. The guidelines explain that with a diagnosis of invasive melanoma, a detailed patient history is imperative and a thorough examination of the skin and lymph nodes should be performed to determine the extent of the spread of the disease. However, for patients with melanomas of any thickness, the guidelines do not recommend baseline blood tests and imaging studies because clinical research does not support their use unless suspicious signs and symptoms are present.

“Melanoma treatments should always be tailored to meet individual patients’ needs,” said Moy. “To ensure the most successful treatment, early detection of melanoma is essential. Studies show that the five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98%.”

Melanoma patients have a significantly increased risk of developing additional melanomas. The guidelines recommend at the minimum an annual follow-up with a dermatologist, but range from every three to 12 months based on the individual’s history and risk factors. All melanoma patients should perform monthly skin self-examinations. To download a body mole map and learn how to perform a self-exam, visit www.aad.org/checkspot.