You can now add regular doctor visits to you list of skin cancer prevention and management strategies. Continue to slather on sunscreen, wear protective clothing, avoid midday sun, and examine your own skin regularly—but make sure you also book those medical check-ups, particularly with a skin cancer specialist.
Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is responsible for most skin cancer deaths. It can be curable when found and treated early, but if left undetected, can spread to other parts of the body and become difficult to treat.
Thanks to a recent study, however, we may have another effective defense against melanoma death. Researches with Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit found that melanoma patients who had seen either their family doctor or a specialist within five years of diagnosis had a 70 percent reduced risk of dying.
To assess the impact of regular, pre-diagnosis medical visits on melanoma survival, the researchers reviewed outcomes for 251 Caucasian patients diagnosed with melanoma between 2001 and 2007. While those who visited a family doctor or specialist had a 70 percent reduced risk of dying, those who saw a specialist had a 90 percent reduced risk.
It’s hard to say exactly what makes pre-diagnosis doctor’s visits effective in reducing risk of death from melanoma, but one of the researchers on the study suggested that patients who see their providers regularly are active advocates in their own healthcare. Not only are they making appointments, they’re more likely to comply with screening, prevention, and care.
It appears that vigilance may be the key to melanoma survival. That begins with sun safety prevention practices at home and continues into the medical setting by making your care a priority.