Comparing Melanoma Invasiveness in Dermatologist- versus Patient-Detected Lesions: A Retrospective Chart Review
ABSTRACT This study examined whether patient-identified melanomas were more advanced than dermatologist-identified tumors at routine clinic visits, and whether a personal or family history of skin cancer was associated with patterns of detection. A retrospective chart review was performed on melanoma patients (N = 201) in a private dermatology clinic. Variables included age, gender, pattern of detection (i.e., patient or a board certified dermatologist), personal or family history of skin cancer, skin type, and previous sun exposure, as well as tumor location and severity. Dermatologist-diagnosed melanomas were less invasive (P < 0.0005), and more likely present on the chest, back, and legs (P < 0.01). Conversely, patient-identified lesions were more likely to occur on the face, neck and scalp, be associated with younger patients, and a family history of melanoma, but not other types of skin cancer (P < 0.01). In a post-hoc analysis examining these factors as predictors of tumor invasiveness, only diagnostic source was significant. Specifically, dermatologist-identified tumors were significantly less invasive than patient-identified tumors. Although age, family history, and tumor location played roles in the early detection of melanomas, the most important factor was diagnostic source. Thus, board-certified dermatologists play a key role in the early detection of malignant melanoma.
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ABSTRACT: Patients from ethnoracial minority groups have lower incidence rates of melanoma compared with whites, but are more likely to have advanced melanomas at diagnosis and lower survival. Infrequent skin cancer screening and poor melanoma awareness may contribute to these disparities. The purpose of this survey study was to evaluate skin cancer surveillance behaviors and awareness among patients attending a dermatology clinic at a public hospital in New York City. Surveys were administered to 152 patients from April to June 2012. In all, 16% of patients previously had a total body skin examination for cancer, 11% were taught by a health care practitioner how to perform skin self-examinations, and 15% perform skin self-examinations. More whites had a total body skin examination compared with minorities (49% vs 5%). Only 33% of patients previously given a diagnosis of skin cancer performed skin self-examinations. Patients possessed a poor ability to recognize features suspicious for melanoma, with minorities (especially Hispanics) performing worse than whites. Small sample size is a limitation. Few patients engage in skin cancer screening behaviors and their knowledge about melanoma is poor, with minorities demonstrating lower understanding than whites. Our findings emphasize the need for improved patient education about characteristics of melanoma, regardless of race.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 12/2013; 70(2). DOI:10.1016/j.jaad.2013.10.030 · 5.00 Impact Factor