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Eide MJ, Jacobsen G, Krajenta R, Johnson D, Johnson CC. Use of Electronic Medical Records to Ascertain Depth of SEER-Reported Melanomas of Unknown Tumor Thickness. Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(8):984–986. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.215
Author Affiliations: Departments of Dermatology (Dr Eide) and Public Health Sciences (Drs Eide and C. C. Johnson, Messrs Jacobsen and Krajenta, and Ms D. Johnson), Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.
Cancer surveillance is important for monitoring disease trends and survival, forecasting future directions, and appropriately targeting strategies for prevention and screening. In the United States, the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program is charged with maintaining records of all cancers reported annually in their respective populations, including melanoma, which is the sixth most common cancer in the United States.1,2
Despite the rigorous methods applied by the SEER tumor registry, there remain limitations on the completeness of data. Approximately 4% of melanomas in the SEER program have no SEER summary stage, which is different from the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage, and approximately 12% of melanomas reported to SEER annually are missing information on tumor thickness.1,3 An important component of AJCC staging, tumor thickness (aka Breslow thickness) is a key predictor of melanoma survival. These melanomas of unknown thickness represent either incomplete clinical information or inadequate abstracting of existing clinical documentation.4
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