In 2015 we explored the key reasons why certain aggressive melanoma subtypes elude diagnosis compared with more recognised subtypes.
We also published a study on population based trends of tumour thickness at diagnosis for nodular versus non-nodular primary cutaneous melanoma (Smithson S et al., MJA 2015). Earlier diagnosis when lesions are thinner gives a better chance of survival.
Our retrospective review of cases reported to the Victorian Cancer Registry during 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2004 indicated that the thickness at diagnosis for non-nodular melanoma has decreased over time, whereas thickness at diagnosis for nodular melanoma has not changed over the years. While patients with non-nodular melanoma are being diagnosed when lesions are thinner and survival outcomes are better, this is not the case for patients with nodular melanoma. Therefore, greater awareness of the clinical features of non-nodular melanoma, which often differs from the ‘asymmetry’, ‘border’, ‘colour’, ‘diameter’ visual diagnostic criteria is needed to reduce overall melanoma mortality.
Our research focuses on understanding primary melanoma, particularly to enhance detection and prevent deaths.