Factors associated with physician discovery of early melanoma in middle-aged and older men

Arch Dermatol. 2009 Apr;145(4):409-14. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2009.8.


Objective: To determine factors associated with physician discovery of early melanoma in middle-aged and older men.

Design: Survey.

Setting: Three institutional melanoma clinics.

Participants: A total of 227 male participants (aged > or =40 years) with invasive melanoma who completed surveys within 3 months of diagnosis. Intervention Survey.

Main outcome measures: Factors associated with physician-detected thin melanoma.

Results: Patients with physician-detected melanoma were older, 57% were 65 years or older compared with 34% for other-detected (odds ratio [OR], 2.57; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19-5.55) and 42% for patient-detected melanoma (P = .07). Physician-detected melanoma in the oldest patients (aged > or =65 years) had tumor thickness equal to that of self-detected melanoma or melanoma detected by other means in younger patients. Back lesions composed 46% of all physician-detected melanoma, 57% of those detected by other means, and 16% of self-detected lesions (physician- vs self-detected: OR, 4.25; 95% CI, 1.96-9.23). Ninety-two percent of all physician-detected back-of-the-body melanomas were smaller than 2 mm compared with 63% of self-detected lesions (P = .004) and 76% of lesions detected by other means (P = .07).

Conclusions: Skin screenings of at-risk middle-aged and older American men can be integrated into the routine physical examination, with particular emphasis on hard-to-see areas, such as the back of the body. "Watch your back" professional education campaigns should be promoted by skin cancer advocacy organizations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dermatology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physicians
  • Self Care
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology