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New melanoma treatment guidance calls for dermoscopy and body imaging

New guidance has been issued for treating melanoma, t he most deadly form of skin cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) wants to reduce the number of people who die from the disease and address the wide variations in diagnosis and treatment across the country.

Its recommendations to the NHS in England call for the use of dermoscopy to assess all brown or black skin spots that have been identified, and for body imaging of the most serious cases to include the brain.

The guidance also focuses on p roviding patients with better information and improving follow-up care.

Melanoma is the third most common skin cancer in the UK and a ccounts for more cancer deaths than all other skin cancers combined.

In 2012 there were more than 2,000 deaths from melanoma, according to Cancer Research UK.

The number of malignant melanoma cases in Britain has risen faster over the past 30 years than any of the 10 most common cancers.

Professor Mark Baker, a director at Nice, said: "At this time of year, we all want to get out there and enjoy the sun, and there are plenty of ways to do that safely: using a sunscreen with a high SPF, spending time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, ensuring you don't burn, and covering up with a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses.

"But, overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can have very serious repercussions.

"Melanoma causes more deaths than all other skin cancers combined. Its incidence is rising at a worrying rate - faster than any other cancer.

"If it is caught early, the melanoma can be removed by surgery. If it is not diagnosed until the advanced stages, it may have spread, so it is harder to treat.

"However, there are a number of options available to help slow the progress of the disease and improve quality of life.

"This new guideline addresses areas where there is uncertainty or variation in practice, and will help clinicians to provide the very best care for people with suspected or diagnosed melanoma, wherever they live."

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