Factors related to patient delay in seeking medical attention for cutaneous malignant melanoma

Lydia Temoshok, Ralph J. Diclemente, David M. Sweet, Marsden S. Blois, Richard W. Sagebiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the relationship between patient delay in seeking medical attention and prognostic indicators, tumor characteristics, and demographic and behavioral factors in 106 patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma. Patients with less readily apparent lesions, particularly on the back, had longer delays in seeking treatment, as might be expected. The prognostically unfavorable nodular melanomas were detected more frequently by patients themselves than they were found during visits to physicians for unrelated problems. In terms of behavioral variables, patients with less knowledge of melanoma or its appropriate treatment had significantly longer delays. Patients who minimized the seriousness of their condition were more likely to seek treatment sooner, perhaps because this reduced fear and anxiety about the disease or its treatment. For superficial spreading melanoma, delay was significantly and positively correlated with Clark's level of invasion, and also with tumor thickness when only noncoincidentally diagnosed patients were included; whereas for the nodular type, delay was significantly and positively associated with tuomr thickness, whether the patient was coincidentally diagnosed or not. The significance of these findings for early detection, and hence improved prognosis of malignant melanoma, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3048-3053
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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