Men aged 50 and older are less likely to examine their skin for early signs of skin cancer and report a suspicious mole to a dermatologist, state studies.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY EXPERT: Information provided by Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania.
AdvertisementLIFESAVING ADVICE: SKIN CANCER SCREENINGS SAVE LIVES: Recent research conducted by Dr. Ferris includes:
1. A study of 167 patients diagnosed with melanoma over a five-year period examined which groups of patients were most and least likely to detect their own melanomas before being evaluated by a dermatologist. The study found 101 of the melanomas (60.5 percent) were brought to a dermatologist's attention by the patient. With respect to melanomas not detected by the patient, the older a person was the more likely the melanoma was detected by a dermatologist. Specifically, men 50 years or older were more likely to be diagnosed with invasive melanoma by a dermatologist than women in the same age group or men and women in younger age groups.
2. A study surveyed 478 adults who sought a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist to determine if an individual's age or gender played a role in seeking a skin exam. The study found that the primary reason men 50 years or older sought a skin cancer screening was because of a previous skin cancer diagnosis (64.6 percent). This group was less likely than all other patients to seek a skin cancer screening because of a particular spot they were concerned might be skin cancer (11 percent vs. 22.5 percent).
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY EXPERT ADVICE: "Older men are most at risk for melanoma and are most likely to die due to a delayed diagnosis," said Dr. Ferris. "This should be a wakeup call to men over 50 and their loved ones. It's vitally important that men check their skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if they notice a spot that is changing, growing or looks unusual."
BUYER BEWARE: SMARTPHONE APPLICATIONS DON'T MAKE THE GRADE IN DIAGNOSING MELANOMA: While smartphone medical applications are a dime a dozen, Dr. Ferris urged consumers to use caution when considering unregulated apps advertised to diagnose melanoma. A new study conducted by Dr. Ferris tested the accuracy of these apps and found unpredictable and inaccurate results that could delay a melanoma diagnosis were common.
A study evaluated the accuracy of four smartphone applications designed to aid consumers in determining whether their skin lesion is melanoma. Digital clinical images of 60 confirmed melanomas and 128 benign control lesions diagnosed by a board-certified dermatopathologist were evaluated, and it was determined that three of the four smartphone applications incorrectly classified 30 percent or more of melanomas as "unconcerning."
DR. FERRIS' TIPS FOR PERFORMING SKIN SELF-EXAMS:
a) Use a mirror to examine hard-to-see places.
b) Look for the "ugly duckling" or the one mole that looks different from the rest.
c) Pay attention to any mole that is changing or growing rapidly no matter its color, since melanoma may be brown, black or even pink or red.
d) If in doubt, get your mole looked at sooner rather than later. When detected in its earliest stages, melanoma is highly curable.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY EXPERT ADVICE: "Technology is a wonderful tool, but it should not replace the expertise of a board-certified dermatologist," said Dr. Ferris.