NICE has developed its first guidance to reduce the number of deaths from melanoma by tackling the variation of diagnosis and treatment across the UK.
The Institute’s new draft recommendations focus firmly on diagnosing and managing melanoma and sets out the need to research the stage a patient’s cancer has reached.
It then wants to see treatments identified for each stage of the disease, including when the cancer has spread and information concerning the best follow-up care after melanoma treatment.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, said: “The number of people being diagnosed with melanoma is rising at a worrying rate – faster than any other cancer.
“The new draft guidance addresses areas where there is uncertainty or variation in practice, and will help clinicians to provide coherent and consistent care for people with suspected or diagnosed melanoma where they live.”
The guidance’s recommendations include the use of dermoscopy and other visualisation techniques by assessing all pigmented skin lesions referred for further assessment and following up using dermoscopy.
Other factors that should be taken into account include: assessing the cancer’s progress by considering sentinel lymph node biopsy as a staging rather than a therapeutic procedure; considering completion lymphadenectomy for people with a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy; and follow-ups after treatment for melanoma.
There are currently around 13,500 new cases of melanoma diagnosed every year in the UK and over 2,000 patients die each year from the disease, more than all over skin cancers combined. This is expected to increase by 50% in the next 15 years.
As part of its efforts to raise awareness of the problem, the British Skin Foundation recently launched a Valentine’s themed cancer campaign, encouraging public to check the moles of loved one for abnormalities linked with melanoma.