Albany doctor responsible for change in Melanoma diagnosis

Published: Sep. 4, 2012 at 10:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM EDT
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A South Georgia Dermatologist is changing the way doctors screen for Melanoma because he felt they were overlooking an important characteristic.

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and this year, the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery endorsed this new approach.

It changes the criterion for diagnosing it.

Dr. Stuart Goldsmith says melanoma is one of few cancers where the death rate is not decreasing, so early detection is key and knowing what to look for could save your life.

6 years ago, Brad Haire was diagnosed with Melanoma.

"I was in my early thirties what did I have to worry about I'm too young to have any problems," said Brad Haire, Cancer Survivor.

But he did have a problem, a mole on his stomach. He noticed it was getting larger and darker, so he went to a dermatologist.

"About seven to ten days later he said yes, this is a Melanoma," said Haire.

Thankfully, he caught it just in time.

"If I would have waited any longer, it would have been bigger and spread," said Haire.

But others aren't as lucky or as diligent as Haire. More people are dying of Melanoma every year, if it's caught early, it's one of the easiest cancers to remove. But if you wait too long, it can be one of the deadliest.

"If it has spread it is one of the most aggressive cancers," said Haire.

Dr. Goldsmith sees Melanoma in all age groups from elderly people to kids.

"In my practice I diagnosed an 11-year-old," said Dr. Goldsmith, Dermatologist.

Self examination is key. Goldsmith tells patients to look for anything that stands out or has changed. Dermatologists use the ABCDE's of diagnosing Melanoma But Goldsmith recently made a big change in Georgia, shifting the focus from size to look.

"Even a small spot that is dark needs to be evaluated," said Goldsmith.

Symptoms can range from a mole that itches or bleeds but by the time you experience symptoms it could be too late.

Take it from Haire it's best to catch it early and now he has advice for others who may have moles in question.

"If you have a question, if it's enough for you to ask someone else to take a look at it that's all you need to know to get an appointment with a dermatologist," said Goldsmith.

Your health is in your hands unlike other cancers, a simple glance at your body can save your life.

When screening for Melanoma you don't need to meet all the criteria to have cancer.  It's common to find Melanoma on the scalp and around the eyes as well.

Check out this story at for a link to a video Dr. Goldsmith made to learn more about the ABCDE method of checking for Melanoma.

Click here to watch the link to the new approach.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.