Recent data has revealed that there has been a significant decrease in 10-year survival for patients with multiple melanomas, compared to those with only one melanoma. Researchers wrote, “Knowledge of a patient’s history of multiple melanomas should prompt careful surveillance to detect new or recurrent disease.”
Danny R. Youlden, BSc, from the Cancer Council Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues wrote that “contrary to existing evidence, our findings overwhelmingly point towards poorer outcomes in patients with multiple invasive melanomas. This in turn emphasizes the need for adequate recording of past disease in melanoma patients. Knowledge of a patient’s history of multiple melanomas should prompt careful surveillance to detect new or recurrent disease.”
I can very much relate to this - we do have several patients who have had multiple melanomas and we are very nervous with them. Typically, once a person is diagnosed with melanoma, we check them every three months for the first two years, and then every six months for the following three to five years. After five years, we check them annually.
For some patients however, it is unfortunate to observe that every time we see them, we diagnose them with a new melanoma and their chance of survival decreases. It is very exhausting for both us and the patient to constantly be taking off lesions. So what does this mean for you? It signals the importance of being extremely vigilant with getting regular skin exams and if you have a history of melanoma, it is important that you become familiar with your own skin so you can be looking for changes in between visits with your dermatologist.