Patients with an established dermatologist may be more likely to detect early-stage melanoma than those without, the results of a study indicate.
The recent study, published online on March 14, 2014, in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
, analyzed associations between previous dermatologic examinations, the amount of time since the last examination, and the wait time for a dermatology appointment with melanoma invasiveness and depth among melanoma patients at an academic dermatology department.
Patients with an established dermatologist were more likely to receive a diagnosis of melanoma in situ and to have thinner invasive melanoma compared with patients without a dermatologist. These trends were only observed for patients with self-detected, not dermatologist-detected, melanoma. Self-detected cases of melanoma accounted for 51% of all cases, 41.7% of in situ melanoma cases, and 62.4% of invasive cases of melanoma. Among self-detected melanoma cases, 59% of patients with an established dermatologist were diagnosed with in situ melanoma, compared with 37% of patients without a dermatologist.
“Education obtained at the dermatology appointment may improve early self-detection of melanoma, and having an established dermatologist may facilitate earlier evaluation of concerning lesions,” the study authors conclude.