The study, which will appear in the May edition of Archives of Dermatology, found that a program for high risk patients was associated with the detection of thinner melanomas which are correlated with better prognoses.
People at high risk for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, include those with:
- a personal history of melanoma or other skin cancer
- a family history of melanoma
- a large mole count
- atypical (funny looking) moles
- fair skin, red hair, freckles
- a history of sunburns
The study, conducted in Spain, included 40 melanoma patients who were in a special follow-up program designed for high-risk individuals, as well as 161 melanoma patients who were simply referred to another clinician in the same hospital. 70% of the melanoma detected in the follow up program were in-situ (non invasive) compared to only 28% in the referred group. There were also a greater number of ‘clinically featureless’ melanomas detected in the follow-up program.
The authors concluded that “the inclusion of patients who are high risk for melanoma in follow-up programs allows the detection of melanoma in early stages, with good prognosis, even in the absence of clinical and dermoscopic features of melanoma. In the general population without specific surveillance, melanoma continues to be diagnosed at more advanced stages. We believe that high-risk individuals, whenever proper resources are available, should be referred to melanoma centers or qualified institutions for regular follow-up.”