-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Melanoma, the most dangerous
type of skin cancer, can be found by patients themselves, but new
research reveals that self-detection is not as effective as
screenings performed by doctors.
In the study, conducted by researchers at Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the investigators
found that in addition to higher rates of physician-detected
melanomas, doctors also are more likely to detect thinner lesions,
or cancers in the earliest stages.
Advanced-stage melanoma is often deadly. At the advanced-stage,
the lesions tend to be thicker, growing down into the skin. The
best way to increase patients' chances of survival is to find the
cancer early when the lesions are thinner. In conducting the study,
published in the July 18 online edition of the
Archives of Dermatology, the researchers found that doctors are more effective than patients in doing just that.
The study authors reviewed a decade of patient records for 394
people treated by two specialists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's
pigmented lesions clinic. The patients were divided into two
groups: new patients and established patients.
Out of a total 527 melanomas, physicians detected 82 percent of
them in established patients and 63 percent in new patients.
Moreover, among the established patients, lesions were typically
thinner and more often detected in the very early stages. These
lesions were also more commonly associated with a more favorable
Meanwhile, the overall patient-detection rate was 18 percent,
and most lesions found by patients were noticed following a change
"Although we recognized that high-risk patients may have more frequent physician skin examinations and may be more vigilant in performing skin self-exam, we strongly believe that the [pigmented lesions clinic] setting contributes to earlier detection of melanoma in our cohort," Dr. Ivanka Kovalyshyn, of Sloan Kettering, and colleagues wrote in the report.
The researchers noted, however, that patients also play a
critical role in the detection of melanoma. "It is crucial to
emphasize that a combined strategy of physician detection and
patient participation must continue to be implemented to ensure
early melanoma diagnosis," the authors concluded.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute provides more information on
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