One-fifth of melanomas went undiagnosed during the COVID-19 pandemic

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A recent survey of more than 700 dermatologists around the world has revealed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the detection of melanoma skin cancer. Compared to dermatological check-ups routinely performed in a normal year, dermatologists estimate that one-fifth (21%) of melanomas may be undiagnosed in 2020, with one-third (33.6%) no-shows at all. consultations due to the pandemic.

If these figures are considered, in addition to the most recent melanoma incidence rates from the World Health Organization (WHO), the survey seems to indicate that, worldwide, more than 60,000 melanomas have not been diagnosed and that this figure , in Spain, it reaches 1,113 undetected cases.

Spanish dermatologists participated in the survey, developed by the Global Coalition for the Defense of the Melanoma Patient (the alliance of charities related to melanoma in charge of the survey). This participation has been carried out through the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) and its Fundación Piel Sana, involved for more than 20 years in the prevention of skin cancer through the Euromelanoma campaign.

“The lockdowns required during the COVID crisis, in addition to the additional burden on healthcare systems, have led to a worrying proportion of professional skin exams being lost. Therefore, with this trend it looks set to continue until we all emerge from the pandemic, it is especially important that people check their own skin to see if they have melanomas, “said Agustín Buendía Eisman, campaign manager for the Healthy Skin Foundation of the AEDV.

The AEDV has been insisting in these pandemic months on the risk of delaying the diagnosis of skin cancer. Last April, the data of a study, carried out with the support of the Academy, was released, showing that a three-month delay in the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinomas meant a loss in survival of up to 8 points at 5 years and 13 points in the case of melanomas. During the period of confinement, in Spain the tumors operated on were reduced by 40 percent and the number of thick skin tumors, melanoma and non-melanoma types, increased.

Based on these data, from the Spanish Group of Dermato-Oncology and Surgery of the AEDV, it is requested to act against the risks that the incidence of skin cancer entails continuing to grow if health activity is slowed or if these patients, especially the elderly with melanoma or another type of skin cancer, do not go to the dermatologist.

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