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While I am the first person to be cynical about conventional oncology I am also the first person to admit that diagnosing cancer is difficult. The article below talks about melanoma. But pathologists have similar challenges with many cancers including breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. Challenging diagnoses is one of the many reasons to get a second opinion.
Further, a diagnosis of any cancer is not a zero/sum game. Just because your oncologist is told by the pathologist that the sample removed from your skin is in fact melanoma, it is then challenging to determine the stage and therapy plan-
To complicate this issue further conventional oncology has few if any effective therapies for melanoma yet there are several integrative therapies shown to enhance the efficacy of specific chemotherapy regimens.
I am a long-term survivor of an “incurable” cancer called multiple myeloma. I am also a cancer coach. Have you been diagnosed with melanoma? Scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.
“The results show that diagnoses can vary among pathologists, particularly for cases in the middle of the disease spectrum, suggesting the potential for both overdiagnosis and under diagnosis…
Diagnosis relies on visual assessment of skin samples (biopsies) under a microscope by a pathologist, but the reliability of the criteria used to diagnose these skin lesions have never been established with rigorous standards…
The study was inspired by Dr Elmore’s experience as a patient undergoing a skin biopsy, which resulted in three different independent interpretations, ranging from benign to invasive melanoma. Ten years later she is healthy and doing research on the topic…
The highest levels of accuracy were found for class I mild lesions (92%) and class V high stage invasive melanoma (72%) – these cases are at the polar ends of the disease spectrum…
In contrast, interpretations for cases in the middle of the spectrum had noticeably lower accuracy, as less than half of the diagnoses were in concordance with the reference diagnosis; class II moderately atypical lesions (25%); class III severely atypical lesions and melanoma in situ (40%); and class IV early stage invasive melanoma (43%)…
“As the most serious type of skin cancer, a melanoma diagnosis carries emotional, financial and medical consequences. That’s why recent studies finding that there is an overdiagnosis of melanoma are a significant cause for concern.
“Overdiagnosis is the diagnosis of disease that will not harm a person in their lifetime. If melanoma is being overdiagnosed, it means that too many people are getting the scary news that they have cancer, and receiving and paying for unnecessary treatment,” said Kathleen Kerr, professor of biostatistics in the UW School of Public Health.
Kerr recently published results of a study involving more than 100 dermatopathologists — pathologists who specialize in skin diseases and who diagnose melanoma — to find out if they believe that melanoma overdiagnosis is a public health issue in the U.S. and whether that belief affects their own conclusions. The pathologists were given biopsy slides to diagnose and were surveyed on their perceptions of overdiagnosis.
Kerr discussed the results of this study, published April 20 in JAMA Dermatology, in the following Q&A with UW News: