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Dermatology Online Journal

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Assessment of melanoma follow-up trends in Medicare patients: a large scale, multi-regional analysis


Background: Research on patient follow-up compliance after a diagnosis of melanoma has been limited.

Objective: To assess the timelines for follow-up among patients who are diagnosed with melanoma and to assess the socioeconomic and provider factors which influence follow-up adherence.

Methods: A retrospective, population-based study using nationally representative data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database was conducted to evaluate 10,813 patients who were diagnosed with melanoma from 2005-2013. Results: We found that 97% of the individuals with melanoma had at least one follow-up visit, with 80.5% having their first follow-up visit within the first 6 months and 88.6% having their first follow-up visit within 12 months. Patients who had a dermatologist as the diagnosing provider were significantly more likely to follow up. Additionally, patients who returned were more likely to live in a community with a higher socioeconomic status.

Limitations: Applicability of the data to a non-Medicare population and confounding variables such as co-morbid conditions are limitations.

Conclusions: The majority of patients diagnosed with melanoma follow up with a provider within one year. However, socioeconomic and provider factors play important roles in influencing patient return visits.

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