Patients with Dermatologists More Likely to Catch Melanoma Early

Published Online: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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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.

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