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Follow-up of early stage melanoma: specialist clinician perspectives on the functions of follow-up and implications for extending follow-up intervals.

Rychetnik, Lucie; McCaffery, Kirsten; Morton, Rachael L; Thompson, John F; Menzies, Scott W; Irwig, Les.
J Surg Oncol; 107(5): 463-8, 2013 Apr.
Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23090908

BACKGROUND:

There is limited evidence on the relative effectiveness of different follow-up schedules for patients with AJCC stage I or II melanoma, but less frequent follow-up than is currently recommended has been proposed.

OBJECTIVES:

To describe melanoma clinicians' perspectives on the functions of follow-up, factors that influence follow-up intervals, and important considerations for extending intervals.

METHODS:

Qualitative interviews with 16 clinicians (surgical oncologists, dermatologists, melanoma unit physicians) who conduct follow-up at two of Australia's largest specialist centers.

RESULTS:

Follow-up is conducted for early detection of recurrences or new primary melanomas, to manage patient anxiety, support patient self-care, and as part of shared care. Recommended intervals are based on guidelines but account for each patient's clinical risk profile, level of anxiety, patient education requirements, capacity to engage in skin self-examination, and how the clinician prefers to manage any suspicious lesions.

CONCLUSIONS:

To revise guidelines and implement change it is important to understand the rationale underpinning existing practice. Extended follow-up intervals for early stage melanoma are more likely to be adopted after the first year when patients are less anxious and sufficiently prepared to conduct self-examination. Clinicians may retain existing schedules for highly anxious patients or those unable to examine themselves.