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Melanoma May Be More Common Than Realized

This report caught my attention. Skin cancer is by far the most common kind of cancer, but the most dangerous kind, melanoma, is the least common of the 3 main skin cancers. However, melanoma wasn’t rare; it was already number 6 on list of most common cancers for both men and women in the U.S. This study suggests that the number of melanomas in the U.S. has been under-reported, possibly by a lot.

What does this mean for those of us who spend time in the sun or perhaps had a sunburn or two in their lives? In addition to wearing sun protection, it means skin cancer screening is something that should be a part of your regular medical care. At Cornerstone we take that job seriously and offer digital mole mapping to all of our patients. Interested? We’d love to tell you more about it.

NEW ORLEANS- National estimates of the incidence of malignant melanoma may be substantially off-base due to widespread underreporting of new cases to state cancer registries by dermatologists, results of a small survey suggest.

A survey of U.S. dermatologists indicates half are unaware of their legal obligation to report new cases of malignant melanoma to the cancer registries operative in all 50 states, Dr. Seema P. Kini reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Leaving aside the issue of familiarity with the legal reporting requirement, the survey also showed that 58% of responding dermatologists don’t report new cases of malignant melanoma to their state cancer registry and don’t know of anyone else in their practice doing so, added Dr. Kini of Emory University in Atlanta.

She and her coinvestigators conducted the survey at the cutaneous oncology symposium held during last year’s annual meeting of the AAD. Among the 424 dermatologists in attendance, 104 practicing in 30 states completed the survey.

Dermatologists in practice for less than 10 years were 3.3-fold more likely to be unaware of the existence of the legal mandate and the established reporting procedures in place in all 50 states than were more experienced practitioners.

Fifty-four percent of dermatologists indicated they had diagnosed nine or fewer new cases of melanoma during the previous year. They were 2.9-fold less likely to report new cases of melanoma to their state cancer registry and to be unaware of anybody in their practice who did so than were dermatologists who reported finding 10 or more melanomas in the prior year.

While conceding that the survey sample size is a limitation and a larger study investigating American dermatologists’ melanoma reporting practices is in order, this initial survey clearly suggests the existence of a problem, and that educational efforts aimed at improving melanoma reporting practices might well target younger physicians who diagnose fewer than 10 new melanomas annually, Dr. Kini concluded.

Dr. Kini declared having no relevant financial disclosures.

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