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Study: Melanoma Better Detected by Doctors

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Self-identified melanomas only accounted for 18% of all melanomas in the study. (Photo: Claire Muldoon)
Self-identified melanomas only accounted for 18% of all melanomas in the study. (Photo: Claire Muldoon)


  • Study shows physicians more successful at detecting early-stage melanoma than individuals
  • Melanoma predicted to be 5th most-common cancer in men, 7th in women for 2011
  • Cancer diagnosis device Aura scans for 21 biomarkers in one second

A report published by the Archives of Dermatology shows that physicians can detect early-stage melanoma more easily than individuals who complete a self-analysis.

Conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City with the oversight of academic dermatologists specialized in skin pigment lesions, the study compared the characteristics and detection patterns in 394 new and current patients over a ten-year span.

Final results showed 63% percent of new-patient melanomas were discovered by physicians and 82% of the cancerous markings on established patients were also found by doctors. Self-identified melanomas only accounted for 18% of all melanomas in the study.

Survivable When Caught Early

The melanomas found by physicians tended to be smaller than those found by patients themselves. Research Epidemiologist Stephen Dusza, who participated in the study, said, “When it hasn't left the upper surface of the skin, melanoma is 100% survivable.”

Despite the progress in advanced melanoma treatments, early recognition is vital to ensuring a more favorable prognosis. Roughly 70,000 people have been diagnosed with melanoma. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute estimate that melanoma will be the fifth most-common cancer in men and the seventh most common in women in 2011.

According to Adrain Connolly, Chief of Dermatology at the St. Barnabas Medical Center, “When melanomas are so obvious it's a melanoma, then it is usually too late.” He noticed that most patients question their brown spots only when a friend or family member has had a melanoma.

New Cancer Diagnosis Device

Cancer diagnostic specialist Verisante has launched a new product called Aura that, according to the website, is a “multi-modality imaging and spectroscopy system” that scans for 21 cancer biomarkers in less than one second.

The new device should help automate the diagnosis process, alleviating patient wait lines, lowering costs and ensuring more instant, accurate results.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) will hold its summer meeting at the Hilton New York from August 3-7. Verisante will be present to introduce its Aura product to the industry. The AAD is the largest dermatologic association in the world, with international membership reaching over 16,000. Aura will be available for sale wherever authorized by the end of the year.

Key Statistics – Skin Cancer (source: American Academy of Dermatology)

  • One in 58 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime. Caucasians and men over the age of 50 are at a higher risk.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in young adults aged 25-29 and the second most common in teens and young adults aged 15-29. Melanoma is increasing more rapidly in females than in men of that category.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
  • Melanoma in people aged 10-39 is highly curable. Their five-year survival rates are above 90%.

By Nicole Manuel for
Nicole Manuel is a freelance economics, finance and blog writer with a degree in economics and over two years of experience.

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