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Association between dermatology follow-up and melanoma survival: a population-based cohort study


Background — Guidelines recommend that patients with melanoma undergo dermatologic examination at least annually. Adherence to follow-up and its impact on survival are unclear.

Objective — To determine the level of adherence to annual dermatologic follow-up in patients with primary cutaneous melanoma, identify predictors for better adherence, and evaluate whether adherence was associated with melanoma-related mortality.

Methods — Retrospective inception cohort analysis of adults with primary invasive melanoma in Ontario, Canada from 2010-2013 with follow-up until December 31, 2018

Results — Adherence to dermatologic follow-up was variable with only 28.0% of patients seeing a dermatologist at least annually (median follow-up 5.0 years). Younger age, female sex, higher income, greater access to dermatology care, stage 2/3 melanoma, prior keratinocyte carcinoma, fewer comorbidities, and any outpatient visit in the 12 months prior to melanoma diagnosis were predictors for adherence. Greater adherence to annual dermatology visits was associated with reduced melanoma-specific mortality compared with lower levels of adherence (adjusted hazard ratio 0.64, 95% CI 0.52-0.78).

Limitations — Observational study design and inability to identify skin examinations performed by non-dermatologists

Conclusion — Adherence to annual dermatology visits after melanoma diagnosis was low. Greater adherence may promote better patient survival but warrants confirmation in further research including randomized trials.



Huang Y, Fleming P, Fung K, Chan AW. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2024; Feb 16 [Epub ahead of print].

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