Melanoma Self-Examination May Be Less Effective in Elderly Patients Interview with:

José Antonio Avilés-Izquierdo, PhD Department of Dermatology Hospital Gregorio Marañón Madrid, Spain

Dr. José Antonio Avilés-Izquierdo

José Antonio Avilés-Izquierdo, PhD
Department of Dermatology
Hospital Gregorio Marañón
Madrid, Spain What is the background for this study?

Response: Melanoma is responsible for most of skin cancer-related deaths and the cancer with the highest cost per death and the highest lost of productive-life years in Europe.

Despite the importance on early diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma, there are few studies analyzing the reasons that lead patients with melanoma to consult. The impact on prognosis in patients with melanoma according to who first detects melanoma have not been established. What are the main findings?

Response: Our main findings are that melanomas detected by patients themselves had a worse prognosis than melanomas detected by dermatologists. Among melanomas noticed by dermatologists, 80% were casual findings. Melanomas detected by women had better prognosis. Secondary prevention campaigns about early melanoma diagnosis should especially target non-easy visible locations in elderly men. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Melanoma is usually a slow-growing tumor. But patients with melanoma used to delay their consultation and therefore their diagnosis for years, despite most of them are on skin surface and so are likely to be seen by the patient, relatives or general practitioners. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Given the results in this study, the general population presents as the ideal target for secondary prevention campaigns. Education based on accurate and reliable scientific information should focus on those established false beliefs regarding skin cancer that typically cause delay in diagnosis. While self-examination has proven to be a useful tool for early diagnosis, it seems to be less effective in elderly patients.

Secondary prevention campaigns organized by public institutions have allowed detection of many early-stage melanomas, as well as promoting regular visits to dermatology clinics that resulted in lower melanoma-related mortality rates in the following years. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Training in dermatology and skin cancer detection for other specialists should be emphasized too, encouraging physicians to perform full-body examinations on patients that include non-easily visible body areas that usually escape self-detection.

Lastly, developing more specialized Melanoma Units within hospitals will help the detection of more and more early-stage and thinner melanomas Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Who detects melanoma? Impact of detection patterns on characteristics and prognosis of patients with melanoma
Avilés-Izquierdo, José Antonio et al.
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology , Volume 0 , Issue 0

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on September 21, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD