Melanoma Recurs More Often Than Thought

Those with three or more atypical moles have fourfold risk

TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Melanomas may recur more frequently than previous studies have shown, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Linda Titus-Ernstoff, Ph.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted a population-based, case-control study comprising 354 New Hampshire residents with a confirmed first diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma.

Within two years of initial diagnosis, melanoma recurred in 27 people (8 percent) of which 20 (6 percent) were re-diagnosed within the first year of initial diagnosis. Of these 27 cases, nine (33 percent) had at least one melanoma that was deeper than the first tumor.

Those diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma were compared with the remaining cases who had only one confirmed diagnosis to assess the role of various risk factors. Patients who had three or more atypical moles had a fourfold higher risk of developing multiple primary melanomas, but the study did not find that risk was influenced by pigmentary characteristics, hours of sun exposure or benign moles.

"These findings, which indicate a higher frequency of second primary melanomas than suggested by previous studies, also underscore the importance of close surveillance of patients with melanoma," the authors conclude. "Unexpectedly, we noted an inverse association with a history of blistering sunburn, which may reflect the influence of an unmeasured covariate," they add.

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Jane Parry

Jane Parry

Updated on April 18, 2006

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