Survival after melanoma not affected by surgical background

November 28, 2002

Survival of melanoma patients does not depend on the surgical background of the person removing the primary tumour, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Such a specialist treatment effect has been observed for breast cancers, with better outcomes for surgeons who carry out breast cancer surgery regularly.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow identified 4,159 melanoma patients. All patients had had their primary melanoma removed between 1979 and 1998. They divided the surgeons performing the procedure into dermatological, plastic surgery, or general surgery training.

They also looked at the effect within the three surgical groups of treating up to six or more than six primary melanomas annually.

They found no evidence that any type of surgeon performing excisions of primary melanomas regularly had a better outcome than those who carried out fewer excisions, possibly because it is a relatively simple procedure.

The authors therefore recommend referral of suspected primary melanomas to the dermatological, plastic surgery, or general surgical service with the shortest surgical waiting time.
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BMJ

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