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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, we discuss disparities in diagnosing and treating melanoma before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MD Newsline:

What disparities in diagnosing and treating melanoma have you observed in your clinical practice?

Dr. Edidiong Kaminska:

“Primary care providers are the first line when it comes to melanoma because initially, most patients will present to them for a skin check or an annual physical exam. I think it’s very important for primary care providers to do at least a preliminary skin check in their patients because they usually find atypical lesions.

In skin of color, there can be huge disparities in diagnosing and treating melanoma because melanoma usually presents on acral surfaces: the hands and the feet. And if those areas are not checked, melanoma can be missed. In fact, Bob Marley, the famous Rastafarian musician, died from acral melanoma on the bottom of his foot that metastasized to the body.”

 

MD Newsline:

Do you think these disparities have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr. Edidiong Kaminska:

“I’m unsure if melanoma disparities have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic because we don’t have the data needed to assess those disparities. But, I can assume that melanoma disparities have worsened with people quarantining and isolating, and a lot of people have been fearful of coming to the doctor’s office.

As I mentioned, skin checks are important to make sure everything looks ok. But with the pandemic, a lot of patients have switched over to telemedicine or have not seen their doctor at all. I have a lot of patients tell me that they haven’t seen a provider in 2 years, and they’re trying to catch up.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

 

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