Melanoma is the most dangerous kind of skin cancer. Around 70 percent of melanomas begin in normal skin while the other 30 start in an existing mole. It can also start in a person’s eyes and sometimes even in internal organs. According to the American Cancer Society, about 96,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year. However, new research suggests that if your older family member is diagnosed with melanoma, getting a second opinion may allow for a more accurate diagnosis.
Melanoma and Second Opinions
People with melanoma typically receive their first diagnosis from their general practitioner, a dermatologist, or even a plastic surgeon. Researchers discovered that when patients get a second opinion from a pathologist who has been trained in evaluating skin lesions (called dermatopathologists) their diagnosis may be more accurate, leading to better treatment.
The study was led by Dr. Joanne Elmore at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. According to Elmore, the analysis of skin biopsies has one of the highest rates of error. The study involved 113 general pathologists and 74 dermatopathologists. They looked at 240 skin biopsies. The rate of misclassification was lowest when the biopsies were examined by the dermatopathologists. It was highest in examinations performed by general pathologists.
The results of the study indicate that patients who have received a diagnosis of melanoma may want to request a second opinion from a dermatopathologist to make certain their diagnosis is accurate, and the melanoma is appropriately classified for the best treatment outcome.
Know the Symptoms for Faster Diagnosis
Another way for your aging relative to have a better treatment outcome is when the melanoma is diagnosed as soon as possible. When you’re aware of the symptoms of melanoma, it can help you to notice an unusual spot on the skin sooner. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest using the ABCDE method to help you recognize a spot that may be problematic. The ABCDE method is:
• A is for Asymmetrical: Moles that have an irregular shape where the two halves don’t match should be medically evaluated.
• B is for Border: If the mole has an irregular border with notches or a scalloped edge, it could be melanoma.
• C is for Color: Watch for changes in color or moles that are unevenly colored.
• D is for Diameter: Moles that are larger than a ¼ inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser) should be looked at.
• E is for Evolving: Moles that change in shape, grow, itch, or bleed could be melanoma.
Senior care can assist with watching your aging relative for moles that may need to be looked at. A monthly skin check at home can help to spot melanoma sooner. A senior care provider can help by looking at parts of the body that are hard for the older adult to see, such as their back or lower legs. If the older adult is diagnosed with melanoma, a senior care provider can drive them to treatment appointments and sit with them afterward to help deal with difficult side effects.
If you are considering Senior Care in North Syracuse, NY for an aging loved one, please contact the caring staff at Serving Seniors, Inc. We specialize in offering services to the Senior Community in Syracuse and the surrounding area (Clay, Cicero, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Central Square, and others). Call us today! 315-382-4300.
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