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Early stage melanomas are curable with surgeryThe first
thing you should know is that even if your suspicions
are confirmed, melanoma when caught early, is nearly
always curable. There are two distinct growth phases of
a melanoma skin lesion. In the first stage, the lesion
grows outward, increasing its diameter. Cure rates
exceed 99% when the melanoma is caught in this early,
non-invasive stage. It is not until the melanoma enters
its second stage, where the tumor begins to invade
deeper into the skin that it becomes much more
dangerous. So don't delay - if you have any concern seek
medical attention as soon as possible.
Who should examine you?Melanoma in its early stage is
difficult even for trained physicians to detect. In one
recent study, resident primary care physicians
misdiagnosed skin cancers 50% of the time. Other studies
have shown that the ability of a primary care physician
to correctly diagnose melanoma improves with experience
but even after 10 years in practice, the mis-detection
rate can exceed 30% . For this reason, it is highly
recommended that all suspicious moles be examined by a
qualified, experienced dermatologist. Ask your primary
care physician for a referral.
If my doctors tells me not to worry, then what?Another
concern is that patients become complacent after a
doctor examines them and tells them there is nothing to
worry about. This so called, false assurance can lead to
a patient not seeking medical attention in the future
should the mole began to change. Remember, a mole can
become cancerous at anytime.
What if I'm still concernedGiven the difficulty of
detection and the seriousness of a misdiagnosis, do not
hesitate to seek a second opinion. Even dermatologists
occasionally miss a diagnosis. When in doubt, double
Are there techniques that can improve the accuracy of
detectionA skin surface microscopy that uses a small
magnifying glass attached to the end of an oroscope, the
instrument that doctors use to look in eyes and ears,
can help your dermatologist detect troublesome features
of a mole before they could be seen with the naked eye,
be detected with the naked eye, enhancing doctors'
diagnostic accuracy quite significantly."
- Early stage melanoma is curable but can be difficult to detect.
- Whenever possible, the examination should be done by a dermatologist.
- Don't become complacent if the examination proves negative. If the mole changes in the future, seek medical attention.
- If you are still concerned, seek a second opinion.