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Regular doctor visits may greatly diminish skin cancer deaths
Date:5/7/2014

DETROIT The risk of dying from the most dangerous type of skin cancer is significantly reduced with regular doctor visits, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

This is believed to be the first study of its kind to link melanoma mortality with routine health care use.

Researchers found that deaths from melanoma dropped 70 percent in patients who had at least one visit to their family doctor or to a specialist in the five years prior to their diagnosis. When factoring in age, gender, socio economics and co-morbidities, mortality decreased by 90 percent in patients who visited a specialist.

Researchers also found substantial reductions in mortality in patients who underwent preventive screenings like a fasting blood test or colonoscopy.

The study is being presented Friday, May 9 at the Society of Investigative Dermatology's annual meeting in New Mexico.

"This study is important because it's not about having health insurance or having access to care. It's about tapping into that care," says Melody Eide, M.D., MPH, a Henry Ford Hospital dermatologist and the study's lead author.

"We know that people are always going to have struggles in their lives. They're going to have unreliable transportation, children that they're caring for, copays that are too expensive to pay. What this study suggests is that these types of barriers may impact your prognosis for cancer if they impede your ability to make your medical care a priority."

While all cancer deaths declined 1.5 percent annually from 2002-2011, the number of melanoma deaths increased 5 percent in the early to mid-1990s but have since leveled off, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, disparities and poor outcomes exist in melanoma patients who are older, male and from ethnic and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers sought to examine whether these disparities, when coupled with patients who have insurance a
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Contact: David Olejarz
David.Olejarz@hfhs.org
313-874-4094
Henry Ford Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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