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Chances of Survival for Melanoma is High When Detected by Dermatologists

A new report says that melanoma when diagnosed by a dermatologist has a higher survival rate than by a non-dermatologist. The reason is that a specialist will be able to detect// the tumor in its early stages which can be removed thereby increasing the chance of survival.

Individuals whose melanoma is diagnosed by a dermatologist may be more likely to have early-stage cancer and to survive five years than those with melanoma diagnosed by a non-dermatologist, according to a report.

Estimates suggest that melanoma will affect 1 in 52 men and 1 in 77 women in the United States during their lifetimes, according to background information in the article. If melanoma is removed at an early stage, when the tumor is still relatively thin (less than 1 millimeter thick), patients have a 90 percent cure rate. However, metastastic melanoma that has spread to other areas usually requires both surgery// and chemotherapy and five-year survival rates are less than 20 percent. "From a health policy perspective, whether a difference in melanoma outcome is associated with a patient’s physician type (specifically, dermatologists vs. non-dermatologists) is of particular interest to this discussion," the authors write.

Michelle L. Pennie, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues attempted to determine whether such a difference exists using data from two sources: Medicare enrollment and claims files from the government and a National Cancer Institute (NCI) database that includes information about patients’ demographics, date of diagnosis, stage of cancer at diagnosis and date of death. The researchers linked records from the two databases for 2,020 patients, comparing codes for different kinds of physician visits in the Medicare database to cancer diagnoses and outcomes in the NCI database.

Of the 2,020 patients, 1,467 (73 percent) were diagnosed with melanoma by a dermatologist and 553 (27 percent) were diagnosed by
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