Dermatologist-performed total body skin examinations (TBSEs) identify numerous cutaneous malignancies that might otherwise remain undiagnosed, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology.
Angela Jiang, M.D., from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, and colleagues assessed dermatology records of 1,010 patients with biopsy-proven melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
The researchers found that of the 1,563 biopsy-proven cutaneous malignancies, 51 percent were first identified by a dermatologist on TBSE, while 48.9 percent were identified by the patient or the referring provider. Of the 797 tumors first identified by dermatologists, 69 percent were BCCs, 28 percent were SCCs, and 3 percent were melanomas. BCCs were significantly more likely to be identified by a dermatologist during a TBSE. However, SCCs were more often identified by patients or their primary care providers. For melanomas, the mean Breslow depth was 0.53 mm for those found on TBSE versus 1.04 mm for those identified by patients or the referring providers.
“Dermatologists need to take the opportunity to look over the patient’s entire body, even when the appointment is just for a suspicious lesion,” a coauthor said in a statement. “And patients need to request one in case the doctor doesn’t suggest it.”
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