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Skin Care and Diseases

Should I Seek a Second Opinion?

06/30/2011

Question:

I am a fifty year old woman who has been seeing the same private-practicing dermatologist for many years. While this doctor was very thorough at first, they now schedule ten patients for every fifteen patients. They even have two nurses that come with them into the examination room to write the prescriptions, hand out samples, etc. I had melanoma, as did my parents, and we all see this dermatologist. However, our last few appointments have lasted no more than five minutes. They also refuse to do a full-body scan during these check ups, insisting that the chances of melanoma coming back are incredibly small, and if I`m truly concerned I should make a second appointment. When I think I have a suspicious mole, they look at it for a brief second and say it is fine, even though it`s getting bigger and is asymmetric. Am I being paranoid or too hard on this doctor? Is this the standard quo for dermatology?

Answer:

Generally, dermatologists have the training, experience and expertise to rapidly judge whether a pigmented lesion is of significant risk for malignancy or not. There are differences of opinion among dermatologists as to the value of routine full body screens. If your dermatologist is offering you a special appointment type to allow for a full body exam, that might be better fitted to your expectations than the brief check-up type slot that you have been experiencing.

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Response by:

Kevin D Cooper, MD Kevin D Cooper, MD
Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University