HealthDay News — Laser treatment of pigmented lesions can complicate the diagnosis of melanoma and potentially lead to a delay in diagnosis, according to a study published online June 27 in The Journal of Dermatology.
Noting that laser therapy is frequently used in dermatologic practice, Sarah Delker, from University Hospital Essen in Germany, and colleagues identified 11 patients with a melanoma diagnosed in a region previously treated with laser therapy. They examined the course of events until the diagnosis of melanoma and patient outcomes including treatment for disease progression.
The researchers found that in 9 of the cases there was no histological assessment before laser therapy; in the other 2 cases, benign melanocytic lesions had been diagnosed by biopsy before laser therapy. There was variation in the time from laser therapy to melanoma diagnosis, from less than 1 to 10 years. At diagnosis, the stage of disease ranged from IA to IIIC. Four of the patients progressed to stage IV disease, at least 1 of whom died of melanoma.
“We conclude that laser treatment of pigmented lesions can complicate the diagnosis of melanoma and lead to diagnosis delay with potentially fatal consequences,” the authors write. “Considering this risk, we believe laser therapy for pigmented lesions should either be avoided entirely or at a minimum performed only after prior histological assessment.”
Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.