Australian researchers have discovered that rapid-growing skin cancers show common characteristics.
Skin cancers or melanomas are more likely to grow and spread quickly if they are thicker, symmetrical, elevated and have regular borders or display certain symptoms, according to their study.
Wendy Liu from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in East Melbourne, Australia, with her colleagues, examined the melanoma growth rate of 222 male patients and 182 female patients with an average age of 54.
The participants had their skin closely examined by a dermatologist, and they were interviewed soon after diagnosis about when they first noticed the spot or spots on their skin.
The researchers relied on the tumour’s thickness at the time of removal to judge the rate of the cancer’s growth.
The study, appearing in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology, found the fast-growing skin cancers were linked to:
o Tumour thickness.
o Formation of a break or sore in the skin.
o Lack of pigment in the tumour.
o Regular borders.
They also noted that rapid-growing melanomas were more likely in people 70 years of age or older, in men in general, and in those with fewer moles and freckles.
“We propose that this information on melanoma rate of growth be incorporated into education programs for patients and health professionals,” the report said.
By identifying faster-growing melanomas, experts hope aggressive cancers can be diagnosed and treated quickly.
Death rates have been on the decline globally since public education campaigns were launched on detecting and treating slow-growing melanomas, contended Dr. Dan Lipsker of Clinique Dermatologique in France.
“The challenge in the coming years will be to do the same work for fast-growing tumors, and the work by Dr. Liu et al is a first step in that direction,” Lipsker wrote in the study’s accompanying editorial.