(HealthDay News) — Patients with self-detected primary melanoma who have an established dermatologist are more likely to have thinner lesions at the time of diagnosis, according to research published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Michelle Y. Cheng, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of 388 patients with primary melanoma to assess the association between the characteristics of dermatologic care and melanoma depth at diagnosis.
The researchers found that patients with an established dermatologist, compared with those without an established dermatologist, were more likely to receive a diagnosis of melanoma in situ (63.6 vs. 44.5%; P=0.001) and have thinner invasive melanoma (0.48 vs. 0.61mm; P=0.003). These patterns were observed for patients with self-detected, but not dermatologist-detected, melanoma. Self-detected melanomas were in situ for 59.0% of patients with an established dermatologist, compared with 37.0% of those without an established dermatologist (P=0.006). Melanoma invasiveness or depth was not related to time from last dermatologic examination or wait time for an appointment.
“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 authors write.