Study backs dermatologist’s claim that total skin exams are key to detecting melanomas

November 6, 2007

Chicago - A new study shows that most melanomas would not be detected without a dermatologist’s total body skin examination, Medscape reports.

Chicago - A new study shows that most melanomas would not be detected without a dermatologist’s total body skin examination, Medscape reports.

The study, conducted by Florida dermatologist Jonathan Kantor, M.D., and presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), observed 25 consecutive cases of invasive melanoma and melanoma in situ that Dr. Kantor diagnosed.

The study’s objective was to determine whether complete skin examinations, rather than focused examinations of an area of concern, helped in the detection of melanoma. Dr. Kantor reports that he found 17 of the 25 malignancies through a full cutaneous examination, whereas only eight were brought to his attention by the patients.

In addition, melanomas detected by screening were more likely to be thinner and in situ, according to the study.

Dr. Kantor notes in his study that though patients seen in a dermatologist’s office may be at higher risk of melanoma, full skin exams on all patients should be considered.

Noting that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines state there is insufficient evidence “to recommend for or against routine screening for skin cancer using a total-body skin examination,” Dr. Kantor calls for large-scale studies to further investigate the melanoma detection rate of complete skin examination.