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Melanoma Screening Important

Melanoma Screening

Alan C. Geller, of the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues have published a study in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology, which shows the importance of skin screenings for melanoma. The study shows that routine screening for melanoma can lead to a 50% increase in detection of small back-of-body lesions. These lesions on the back are ones that are often missed by the patients themselves.

The study surveyed 227 men ≥40 within three months of melanoma diagnosis. They found that more than half (59%) had not received a full-body physical examination by a physician prior to diagnosis of melanoma.

Melanoma can present anywhere on the body, but in men the back is the most common site, making up nearly a third of all cases. The study found that back lesions made up nearly half of all physician-detected lesions, and back-of-the-body lesions comprised 63% of physician-detected melanoma. It is also important to note that 92% of physician-detected back-of-body lesions were thinner than 2 mm, compared with 63% of self-detected and 76% of other-detected lesions.

The authors are urging the promotion of the " 'Watch Your Back' (PDF) education campaigns.

Each month examine your skin everywhere, including the palms and soles. Use a hand mirror and a full length mirror to see your back. Ask you spouse or partner to check your back. Ask you doctor to check you skin once a year.

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Look for a new growth, or any skin change, and know your ABCD’s.

“A” for Asymmetry – Basically, one side does not look like the other.

“B” for Border irregularity – Lots of moles grow, but beware of irregular jagged borders

“C” for Color Variation – Lots of moles have pigment, but be wary of different colors in the same mole.

“D” for Diameter – Moles that are larger than a head of a pencil eraser (about 6mm.) are more concerning for melanoma

The proportion of patients reporting full-body examinations in the year prior to diagnosis did not differ among men with physician-detected (43%), self-detected (41%), or other-detected melanoma (52%).

Source reference:
Factors associated with physician discovery of early melanoma in middle-aged and older men; Arch Dermatol 145(4): 409-14; Geller AC, et al.