New melanoma guidelines could help save lives
Experts from the Victorian Melanoma Service at The Alfred have recommended new melanoma detection guidelines that could prevent more people dying from the deadly skin cancer.
In a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, a Cancer Council working group found expanding existing diagnostic guidelines could enable more early diagnosis – which remains critical to reducing the risk of death from cutaneous melanomas.
Lead author of the study, Dr Victoria Mar from the Victorian Melanoma Service, said the current guidelines assisted health practitioners to identify melanomas using the ABCD method – asymmetry, border irregularity, colour variegation and diameter greater than 6mm.
However, she said some melanomas were difficult to identify using this method and adding EFG – elevated, firm and growing – could help health practitioners diagnose more melanomas in time for more effective treatment.
“Because thick, life-threatening melanomas may lack the more classical ABCD features of melanoma, a thorough history of the lesion with regard to change in morphology and growth over time is essential,” Dr Mar said.
“Any lesion that is changing in morphology or growing over a period of more than one month should be excised or referred for prompt expert opinion. Any lesion that is elevated, firm and growing over a period of more than one month should raise suspicion for melanoma.”
Dr Mar urged everyone to keep an eye on unusual skin lesions and if they had any concerns, see their GP immediately.
“Melanoma remains the most common cancer in young Australians (aged 15-39) and kills five people across the country every day,” Dr Mar said.
“The best defence is prevention but failing that, early detection of melanoma is crucial for effective treatment.”
The Cancer Council working group included specialists from the Victorian Melanoma Service at The Alfred, Monash University Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Melanoma Institute Australia and the University of Sydney.