Understanding Risk Factors Can Make a Difference in Melanoma Detection

Posted by North Texas Cancer Center at Wise on January 18th, 2017

Each year an estimated 76,380 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma. Some 10,000 die from the disease annually. A new study, however, is helping shape a protocol that may someday save lives through the use of tailored screening protocols meant to target those at the highest risk.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer is that known to strike both men and women alike. The diagnosis rate for this form of skin cancer has been on the rise for the last 30 years, the American Cancer Society reports. Although most commonly diagnosed in older people, melanoma can present in younger people, as well. That fact makes it especially important for people and their healthcare providers to understand the risk factors. Early detection can lead to highly successful treatment of this form of cancer.

To help on the early detection end, a new study looked at the benefits of tailoring surveillance programs to screen for this form of cancer based on a person’s risk factors. The study involved more than 2,700 people with melanoma who presented with risk levels that ranged from low to high. The most common risk factor noted in the study group was a presence of many moles. That factor was followed by personal history and family history of melanoma. Researchers ultimately found that people who were deemed higher risk tended to be diagnosed earlier. They also found that people with a family history were more likely to be diagnosed earlier than those with a large number of moles.

Researchers ultimately concluded that risk factors could and should play a role in tailoring surveillance programs to individual patients. By identifying which factors are most likely to promote earlier onset of this type of cancer, clinicians say patients can be educated to conduct potentially life-saving self examinations. What’s more, risk factors may guide doctors in prescribing more intensive surveillance of patients who are most likely to develop this form of cancer.

Beyond family history and the presence of moles, melanoma has a number of other common risk factors. These include UV exposure, fair skin, freckling and light hair, among others.

People who are at risk for melanoma or other types of skin cancer are urged to talk with their healthcare providers. Routine screening for high-risk patients can lead to lifesaving treatments. People who are at lower risk may also find that routine surveillance is a wise way to help catch this disease in its earliest forms should it develop.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise
Joined: February 24th, 2016
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