Comparing Melanoma Invasiveness in Dermatologist- versus Patient-Detected Lesions: A Retrospective Chart Review

University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV 89557, USA.
Journal of skin cancer 07/2012; 2012(3):187963. DOI: 10.1155/2012/187963
Source: PubMed


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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