While a fellow in the department of Dermatology at UC San Francisco/Stanford University, much of Dr. Basler’s research focused on patterns of detection and diagnosis of Melanoma. 15 years later, Scientists are further supporting Dr. Basler’s argument that society’s strongest defense against unnecessary deaths from Melanoma derives from educating the public and performing skin cancer screenings.
A leader in Melanoma research spoke at the 2013 American Academy of Dermatology:
"We have been working on the primary prevention of melanoma for 30 years. Yes, we have made some progress with better sunscreens, but we have taken steps back with indoor UV tanning being so widely used," said Dr. Weinstock, professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University.
New medications for treating metastatic melanoma have been developed, but many patients who receive these new treatments still die from their melanoma within one or two years after diagnosis, he said, adding, "So, early detection is what we are left with." www.aadmeetingnews.org
I agree and have discussed these failings with many of my patients. Sunscreen and aggressive sun protection is our primary form of prevention. However, there are groups of individuals that have a genetic predisposition to melanoma or have already received a lifetime of UV radiation as a youth.
Moreover, treatment for advanced Melanoma remains discouraging. There have been incremental improvements, but the sad reality is that Metastatic Melanoma has a very poor outcome.
Fortunately, Complete Family Dermatology is leading our communities in education and skin cancer screenings. Current research is supporting Dr. Basler’s argument of the value of self-examinations and skin cancer screenings.
More from the AAD meeting:
"I think we can cut in half the number of melanoma deaths through screening early detection over the next decade," Dr. Weinstock said.
…evidence supporting the value of melanoma screenings does exist. In the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, a study ties screenings to a 48-percent decline in the melanoma mortality rate over a decade.
"That is dramatic. We, as a team, compared it to each of the states that surround Schleswig-Holstein, and there weren't substantial changes in any of those other states. But in Schleswig-Holstein, there was a dramatic drop, with this screening and intervention almost cutting it in half," Dr. Weinstock said. "That needs to be replicated. That is the most important type of evidence that will be convincing."
These statistics are impressive and support the skin cancer screening programs we already have in place at various businesses (e.g. Duncan aviation) and assisted living communities (e.g. Legacy estates), totaling 13 screening this spring alone. To arrange a skin cancer screening for your business or living community - please contact our office at 402-423-1111; www.completefamilydermatology.com.
I ultimately agree with Dr. Weinstock’s closing words:
"Reducing deaths from melanoma boils down to two words: look and see. People need to look at the skin and see that certain spots on the skin could be potentially dangerous," Dr. Weinstock said. "It's getting the science around those two words that has the potential, after all these years of rising melanoma deaths, to finally reduce melanoma deaths, to cut them in half, or more. But we need to upgrade the science to convince the relevant people and institutions to do what needs to be done to reduce this death toll."
Again, please contact our offices (402-423-111), if you notice a changing or suspicious looking mole on you or a family member. Also, be aware that a family history of skin cancer puts you and your family at higher risk to develop Melanoma.