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Last week, I discussed the importance of screening for colon cancer. As I have stated many times before, screening for cancer saves lives.
While we all know about mammograms, the PSA blood test and the colonoscopy, we often forget to undergo screening for the most common type of cancer diagnosed: skin cancer.
Living in Florida, we see a lot of skin cancers, and screening for this cancer is very important, especially as we age. Now a new study highlights the importance of a good skin cancer screening.
In this study, men age 50 years or older are more likely to be diagnosed with invasive melanoma by a dermatologist than to detect it themselves; and they are less likely to seek a skin cancer screening due to a suspicious lesion. This data comes from the results of two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, recently held in Miami Beach.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine examined which patients detect their own melanomas before assessment by a dermatologist in a cohort of 167 patients diagnosed with melanoma. The researchers found patients discovered 60.5 percent of the melanomas, and cases detected by the dermatologist were more likely in older patients.
Men age 50 years or older were more likely to be diagnosed with invasive melanoma by a dermatologist, compared with women in the same age group and younger men and women.
In the second study, to examine the impact of age and gender, researchers surveyed 478 adults who went for skin cancer screening by a dermatologist. The researchers found men age 50 years or older mainly sought a skin examination because they had had a previous diagnosis of skin cancer (64.6 percent). Compared with other patients, this group was less likely to seek a skin cancer screening because of a suspicious spot (11 versus 22.5 percent).
The message is clear, a good skin cancer screening on a regular basis by your primary care physician or a dermatologist is a good thing to do. Older men are most at risk for melanoma, and are most likely to die due to a delayed diagnosis.
This should be a wake-up call to men older than 50 and their loved ones to keep a close watch on your skin, get screened regularly, and if you develop a cancer, you will catch it early and have a better chance of being cured.
Dr. C. Joseph Bennett is a board-certified radiation oncologist and a member of the Citrus County Unit of the American Cancer Society. Watch “Navigating Cancer” on WYKE TV at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and at 10 a.m. Thursdays. If you have any suggestions for topics, or have any questions, contact him at 522 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, or email email@example.com.