How surgeon age affects post-treatment surveillance strategies for melanoma patients

Int J Oncol. 2001 Jul;19(1):175-80. doi: 10.3892/ijo.19.1.175.


The intensity of post-treatment melanoma patient follow-up varies widely among physicians. We investigated whether physician age accounts for the observed variation in surveillance intensity among plastic surgeons. A custom-designed questionnaire was mailed to USA and non-USA surgeons, all of whom were members of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. Subjects were asked how they use 14 specific follow-up modalities during years 1-5 and 10 following primary treatment for patients with cutaneous melanoma. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to compare practice patterns by TNM stage, year post-surgery, and age. Of the 3,032 questionnaires mailed, 1,142 (38%) were returned. Of those returned, 395 (35%) were evaluable. Non-evaluability was usually due to lack of melanoma patient follow-up in surgeons' practices. Follow-up strategies for most of the 14 modalities were highly correlated across TNM stages and years post-surgery, as expected. The pattern of testing varied significantly by surgeon age for 3 modalities (complete blood count, liver function tests, and chest X-ray), but the variation was quite small. We concluded that the post-treatment surveillance practice patterns of ASPRS members caring for patients with cutaneous melanoma vary only marginally with physician age. Continuing medical education could account for this observation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Postoperative Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Surveys and Questionnaires