Veterans At High Risk for Melanoma

Veterans face a myriad of issues when they return home. And not least of them, is melanoma. In a recent review of 17,174 dermatology consults at the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 231 melanomas were found in 221 patients.

Those statistics don’t lie, and the clearest message to emerge from that study was this: you cannot find what you do not look for. While the veteran population is not necessarily generalizable for every community, it is evident that melanoma screening is essential to lowering one’s risk. Moreover, it is evident that our veterans are in need of consistent, quality skin exams carried out by dermatologists.

In this review, dermatologist-detected melanomas were found to be thinner, smaller, and earlier stage than melanomas detected by other providers. This means that a thorough exam at one’s initial dermatology consult and counseling patients on what to look out for would certainly increase melanoma detection.

When melanomas are neglected, the risk of fatality increases as the melanomas grow deeper and larger. Dermatologists are great at screening for this kind of risk, and I would definitely advise any veteran to seek out a dermatologist with their local veteran’s office. In the meantime, make sure you know your ABCDEs of melanoma detection! We’ve covered it in an earlier blog post, which you can read here.

J Am Acad Dermatol 2015 Nov 20;[EPub Ahead of Print], JL Hanson, JL Kingsley-Loso, KR Grey, SI Raju, PR Parks, AL Bershow, EM Warshaw

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