Most melanomas are found during complete skin exams of patients who came to see a physician for different complaints, according to a study in the Archives of Dermatology.
Physician-detected cancers are also thinner and more likely to be only on the outer layer of skin than cancers detected by patients (Arch Dermatol 145:873-876, 2009).
Researchers at North Florida Dermatology Associates in Jacksonville found 60% of melanomas on the outer layer of the skin were detected by the dermatologist and were not among the reasons the patient came into the clinic.
Out of 126 cases of melanoma, 51 were invasive and 75 were on the outer layer of skin. The dermatologists found melanomas with a median depth of 0.33 mm vs 0.55 mm for the melanomas found by patients.
The data suggested full-body skin exams by a dermatologist would benefit individual patients and lessen the financial impact of melanoma, according to Jonathan Kantor, MD, and Deborah E. Kantor, MSN, the authors of the retrospective analysis.