Checking Your Skin for Cancer

New melanomas can be detected early by patients and their partners, with training

(RxWiki News) Through a skin self-examination, patients with melanoma, along with their partners, can enhance early detection of new, recurrent melanoma, according to a new study.

Patients with melanoma face an increased risk of developing a second primary melanoma. Early detection is very important because it often improves survival. 

This new study suggests that patients with melanoma, along with their partners, can alert their health care providers when they identify a lesion that may be of concern. These regular skin checks serve as an important adjunct to the yearly skin checks a health care provider performs. 

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers behind this study evaluated nearly 500 patients with stage 0 to IIB melanoma. Patients and their partners were divided into two groups: one group that received training on how to perform skin self-examinations and another group that continued to receive standard care (control group). Training for performing skin self-examinations was reinforced every four months. 

Of the participants in this study, 13.4 percent of the patients developed a new melanoma. Those in the group who received training on how to perform skin self-examinations underwent more skin self-examinations and identified more new melanomas than those who did not receive training. 

A limitation of this study is the fact that the study relayed heavily on self-reported survey responses. These researchers called for further research to evaluate whether training delivered by the web without reinforcement from the dermatologist will yield accurate and reliable skin self-examinations. 

Speak with your dermatologist about how to detect lesions that may be of concern. 

This study was recently published in JAMA Dermatology. A grant from the National Cancer Institute funded this study. One of the authors of this study was the editor of JAMA Dermatology.

Review Date: 
July 1, 2016