Training the loved ones or partners of skin cancer survivors to examine new moles can dramatically increase early detection and thus lead to early treatment as well as improve survival rate, says a study.
Patients with melanoma — the most serious type of skin cancer — are at increased risk of developing a second primary melanoma.
Patients with melanoma and their partners can help to manage early detection of new or recurrent melanoma with skin self-examination (SSE).
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They can alert the physician when a concerning lesion is identified, thus providing an important adjunct to yearly skin examinations by a physician, the researchers said.
The findings showed that partners who checked the skin of patients with melanoma effectively performed skin self-examinations and identified new melanomas as part of an effort to increase early detection of the skin cancer that can be fatal.
For the study, the team conducted a randomised clinical trial with 24 months of follow-up with patients with stage 0 to IIB melanoma and their skin-check partners.
They enrolled 494 participants who were assigned to either usual care or to the skill-based intervention for SSE, which was delivered either in-person in the office, in a workbook or on a tablet.
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Skills to recognise change in the border, colour and diameter of moles were reinforced in four-month intervals during skin examinations by a dermatologist.
Of the 494 patients, 66 developed new melanomas. Patient-partner pairs in intervention identified 43 melanomas.
“Future research will determine if a skill training program delivered via the web without reinforcement by the dermatologist will yield reliable sustained performance of SSE by those at risk to develop another melanoma,” said June K. Robinson, professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, US
The results were published online in the journal JAMA Dermatology.