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Letter From Abroad
November 2003

About Moles, Melanomas, and Lasers: The Dermatologist's Schizophrenic Attitude Toward Pigmented Lesions

Arch Dermatol. 2003;139(11):1405-1406. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.11.1405

IN THESE TIMES, when melanomas are surgically removed by plastic surgeons, when histopathologic analysis of melanoma is performed by pathologists, and when systemic treatment, including adjuvant interferon therapy, is administered by oncologists, the role of dermatologists in the management of melanoma and other skin tumors is fading. This is especially critical because skin cancer was one of the strongest arguments for supporting a valuable role for dermatology in academic medicine. Nevertheless, dermatologists remain active in skin cancer prevention worldwide. Dermatologists carry the load of work associated with repeated education campaigns aimed at the general population.1 They continue to stress the increasing lifetime risk for melanoma development, which stands at 1 in 80 for Swiss children born in the year 2000.2-4 Many dermatologists are also active in instructing the public about how to differentiate between a benign and a malignant pigmented lesion. Despite this activity in prevention, patients who take their concerns about blemishes to their dermatologists are often not taken seriously.

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