Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer with limited treatment for deep tumors. Clinical full skin exams by a dermatologist have been shown to decrease the number of deep melanomas, which is important because depth of invasion for malignant melanoma is the most important factor when predicting patient outcomes.
According to a recent study, more than 45 percent of melanomas were an incidental finding on full skin exam. This could be because melanomas usually have no symptoms until they become much more invasive unlike other types of skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma that tend to itch, hurt, or bleed. In the study, the dermatologist detected statistically less invasive melanomas than patients with melanomas presenting as the reason for the seeking a dermatologist.
Any patient, especially living in Florida or a family history of melanoma, should at least have a baseline full skin exam by a dermatologist. This will increase melanoma detection, decrease overall thickness at diagnosis, and in turn increase overall survival.