Dr. Joann Elmore at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine led a study investigating how often pathologists agreed—or disagreed—about skin cancer diagnoses. Her results show that doctors don’t always agree about the presence or progression of cancer. However, to date, doctors still largely agree about how to prevent skin cancer.
Dr. Elmore’s study involved:
Pathologists were given all skin samples in sets of 36 to 48 samples and asked to determine if cancer was present and to diagnose the stage of cancer (between 1 and 5, 5 being the most advanced stage). The participating doctors were asked to review the same samples eight months later. Here’s what Dr. Elmore found:
It’s the middle stages of cancer progression that are harder to pin down. When samples and diagnoses were reviewed by an expert panel of three pathologists, the panel only agreed with a Stage 2 diagnosis about 25% of the time, but the same panel agreed with more than 90% of the Stage 1 diagnoses.
Researchers estimate that the disagreement about skin cancer diagnosis may result in about 17% of cases being under- or over-diagnosed (i.e. assigned a stage too low or too high, respectively).
The study is not intended to damage confidence in your doctor’s or dermatologist’s diagnosis. Diagnoses for early stages of skin cancer and advanced stages are consistent, so physicians can be certain what types and how aggressive your treatment may need to be.
One way to avoid being over- or under-diagnosed with skin cancer is to prevent your cells from mutating in the first place. How? Two main strategies:
Hale Cosmeceuticals has products for advanced skin cancer prevention.
Our complete line of cruelty-free, all-natural skincare products includes a number of other formulas that can aid skin repair. To find out more about which products are best suited to your needs and skin type, take our personal skin assessment. Contact us to order or request a free sample.