Patient Preferences for Follow-up After Recent Excision of a Localized Melanoma

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Abstract

Importance

The standard model of follow-up posttreatment of localized melanoma relies on clinician detection of recurrent or new melanoma, through routinely scheduled clinics (clinician-led surveillance). An alternative model is to increase reliance on patient detection of melanoma, with fewer scheduled visits and increased support for patients’ skin self-examination (SSE) (eg, using smartphone apps to instruct, prompt and record SSE, and facilitate teledermatology; patient-led surveillance).

Objective

To determine the proportion of adults treated for localized melanoma who prefer the standard scheduled visit frequency (as per Australian guideline recommendations) or fewer scheduled visits (adapted from the Melanoma Follow-up [MELFO] study of reduced follow-up).

Design, Setting, and Participants

This survey study used a telephone interview for surveillance following excision of localized melanoma at an Australian specialist center. We invited a random sample of 400 patients who had completed treatment for localized melanoma in 2014 to participate. They were asked about their preferences for scheduled follow-up, and experience of follow-up in the past 12 months. Those with a recurrent or new primary melanoma diagnosed by the time of interview (0.8-1.7 years since first diagnosis) were asked about how it was first detected and treated. SSE practices were also assessed.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Proportion preferring standard vs fewer scheduled clinic visits, median delay between detection and treatment of recurrent or new primary melanoma, and SSE practices.

Results

Of the 262 people who agreed to be interviewed, the mean (SD) age was 64.3 (14.3) years, and 93 (36%) were women. Among the 230 people who did not have a recurrent or new primary melanoma, 149 vs 81 preferred the standard vs fewer scheduled clinic visits option (70% vs 30% after adjusting for sampling frame). Factors independently associated with preferring fewer visits were a higher disease stage, melanoma on a limb, living with others, not having private health insurance, and seeing a specialist for another chronic condition. The median delay between first detection and treatment of recurrent or new primary melanoma was 7 and 3 weeks, respectively. Only 8% missed a scheduled visit, while 40% did not perform SSE or did so at greater than 3-month intervals.

Conclusions and Relevance

Some patients with melanoma may prefer fewer scheduled visits, if they are supported to do SSE and there is rapid clinical review of anything causing concern (patient-led surveillance).

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