Ackerman and his study co-author, Dr. Steven Lomazow, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, pointed out that FDR's mole -- which was about one inch by three-quarters of an inch at its largest stage -- does check off as suspicious on all aspects of the ABCDE criteria.
Nevertheless, they also admit that a range of other pigmented lesions could have accounted for the marking's characteristics.
And Dr. Vijay Trisal, an assistant professor of surgical oncology at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., said that he was not persuaded by visual evidence that FDR had melanoma or died of the disease.
"First of all, what you have to understand is that in this country today, out of every hundred lesions we think are suspicious for melanoma, only one is a melanoma and the rest are nothing," he noted. "And with a purely visual diagnosis, in most cases we can get only a 5 percent accuracy."
"Specifically with respect to FDR's case," he added, "I would say given the size of the lesion and the irregular color pattern, there is a 30 or 40 percent range of accuracy in visually diagnosing it."
Such hesitancy aside, Trisal suggested that if FDR indeed had melanoma it was probably not life-threatening.
"It seems more like a less aggressive 'lentigo-maligna' type of melanoma," he said. "One that typically grows slowly, with little effect on longevity.
"So I don't get the feeling that they [the study authors] made a strong argument about melanoma being the cause of death," Trisal concluded.
For additional information on melanoma, visit the American Cancer Society.
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