Measuring Melanoma's Spread

Bleeding and other symptoms indicate deeper invasion of disease, study says

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

MONDAY, June 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Symptoms such as bleeding, pain, itching, lumps and a change in lesion size can be used by doctors to better assess the extent of melanoma.

That's what a study in the June 15 issue of Cancer found.

Melanoma prognosis and therapy are linked primarily to the depth of cancer invasion. For example, lesions less than 1.0 mm can be treated with surgery.

But it can be difficult to get an accurate determination of lesion depth. The same biopsy sample can yield conflicting interpretations. Or biopsies may be collected incorrectly or inappropriately processed. That means a doctor may have to make a treatment decision based on inadequate information.

That's why a better understanding of the clinical signs and symptoms of the severity of the cancer is so important. But few studies have looked into this relationship.

This new study included 369 people newly diagnosed with melanoma. Among other things, researchers collected data about the symptoms the study volunteers experienced before their initial visit.

People who had bleeding were 7.5 times more likely to have either a thick versus intermediate melanoma or an intermediate versus thin melanoma, the study found.

And the presence of pain, a lump or itching were all associated with deeper cancer invasion. Only change in color and skin breakdown were not associated with depth of cancer invasion.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about melanoma.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., news release, June 15, 2003
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