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Skin Cancer Patients Detect 44 Percent of Own Melanomas

Physicians find only 25.3 percent of cases in Australia

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Skin cancer patients detect almost half of their melanomas themselves, while physicians find about one quarter of cases, according to the results of an Australian study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The study was conducted in a region that has been encouraged to check for melanomas for many years, the authors note.

Michelle McPherson, M.P.H., of the Queensland Cancer Fund in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues analyzed skin cancer detection trends involving 3,772 Queensland residents diagnosed with melanoma between 2000 and 2003.

The researchers found that patients themselves detected 44 percent of their melanomas, while their physicians discovered only 25.3 percent of cases and their partners found 18.6 percent.

The melanomas discovered by physicians were more often thinner than melanomas found by patients or other non-medical people, the report indicates. Still unknown is whether the study results can be applied to other geographic regions.

"There are clear differences in the depth distribution of melanoma in terms of method of detection and who detects the lesions that are consistent with, but do not automatically lead to, the conclusion that promoting active methods of detection may be beneficial," the authors conclude.

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