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Eur J Surg Oncol. 2013 Mar;39(3):297-303. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2012.12.017. Epub 2013 Jan 1.

Patients' perspectives of long-term follow-up for localised cutaneous melanoma.

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School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Little is known about the value of long-term follow-up for localised cutaneous melanoma from the patients' perspective. This study aimed to explore the benefits and potential downsides of follow-up; feelings about changes to frequency of follow-up, and patient-centred recommendations for improving follow-up care.


Qualitative analysis of 29 in-depth interviews conducted with Australian patients undergoing long-term follow-up after surgical treatment of stage I/II melanoma.


Patient-perceived benefits of follow-up included reassurance, early detection of new melanomas and non-melanoma skin cancers, education about skin self-examination, the opportunity to ask questions, and reinforcement of 'sunsafe' behaviours. Downsides included anxiety leading up to and during follow-up visits; inconvenience of travel to attend visits; and lost work time. Patients varied in their engagement with skin self-examination, and their views on multiple skin excisions, but highly valued access to specialists for unscheduled visits. Most patients felt their follow-up intervals could be extended to 12 months if recommended by their clinician.


The benefits and potential downsides of follow-up should be discussed with patients when deciding on a melanoma follow-up plan to achieve a balance between inducing additional patient anxiety and providing reassurance. Follow-up intervals of 12 months appear to be acceptable to patients.

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