Cancer can strike anybody and at any moment. It is best to pre-empt it and take corrective action, like early detection in the case of patients of skin cancer. An effective way to do so is to teach the partners of such patients to identify new melanomas (a type of cancer that develops from the pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes) that may lead to early detection, a new study has found.
Patients with melanoma are at increased risk of developing a second primary melanoma. These patients and their partners can help to manage early detection of new or recurrent melanoma with skin self-examination (SSE), researchers said.
June K Robinson from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US and colleagues conducted a randomised clinical trial with 24 months of follow-up with patients with stage 0 to stage two melanoma and their skin-check partners.
The study enrolled 494 participants who were assigned to either usual care (99 participants) or to the skill-based intervention for SSE, which was delivered either in-person in the office (165), in a workbook (159) or on a tablet (71).
Skills to recognise change in the border, colour and diametre of moles were reinforced in four-month intervals during skin examinations by a dermatologist.
Of the 494 patients, 66 developed new melanomas. Patient-partner pairs in intervention (395) identified 43 melanomas. In comparison, none of the patient-partner pairs in the comparison control group identified melanoma, researchers said.
The results show that skin-check partners of patients with melanoma can effectively perform skin self-examinations and identify new melanomas to increase early detection of the cancer that can be fatal.
The findings were published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.