New Study Indicates the Importance of Early Detection for Skin Cancer Survival

Those who have been diagnosed with skin cancer do not want to get it again, so they are more likely to be vigilant about skin exams in the future. This vigilance seems to greatly increase their chance of survival.

A new study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology look at more than 900 cases of melanoma reported through the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The study found that men who had a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer were less likely to die of melanoma than those without a history.

“Our results highlight the impact of early detection on skin cancer survival,” says board-certified dermatologist Steven T. Chen, MD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and a co-author of the JAAD study. “Because people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer are more likely to see a dermatologist for regular skin exams, any future skin cancers they may develop are more likely to be caught early, when they’re most treatable.”

Jiali Han (PhD), a professor and chair of epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis, led the research.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 91,270 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2018, and 9,320 people are expected to die from that form of cancer. Roughly one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, the American Academy of Dermatology released a new public service advertisement “Caught It.” It encourages men over 50 to be aware of changes in their skin so they can detect skin cancer early on when it’s the most treatable. Since men over 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma, the PSA focuses mainly on that group. However, everyone is still encouraged to perform regular self-exams and see board-certified dermatologists if something seems wrong, no matter their age, race, or gender.

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