The Choosing Wisely RI campaign promotes productive conversations between patients and doctor--conversations that research shows produce the right level of care and go a long way towards eliminating tests, procedures and medications that provide, little, if any benefit. The campaign is organized and promoted by the Rhode Island Business Group on Health (RIBGH) and draws on the expertise of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. While we provide materials that enable patients to have informed conversations with their doctors and other health care providers, we do not provide any individual medical advice.
Choosing Wisely provides employees free-of-charge access to online tools developed by ABIMF and their 80+ Specialty Society partners.
The Choosing Wisely Mobile Phone App for Apple and Android phones gives employees the chance to view the Choosing Wisely materials and recommendations on their phones - possibly when they are in their physician's office!
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Imaging Tests for Melanoma
When you need them and when you don't
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. In honor of this observance, we have included Choosing Wisely’s recommendations on Imaging Tests for Melanoma from The Society of Surgical Oncology.
Imaging tests are tests such as CT scans and PET-CT scans that take pictures. According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, if you have advanced-stage skin cancer, imaging tests can help your doctor see if the cancer has spread or come back after treatment. However, the tests usually don’t help if you have early-stage skin cancer.
According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer that appears as a dark, uneven spot on the skin, and is usually removed with a surgical procedure. Early-stage melanoma means that the cancer hasn’t grown much or spread to other parts of the body, while advanced stage means that the cancer is bigger and has most likely spread. According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, if the cancer has not spread, treatment is more likely to be successful. It is important to know the stage of a cancer. It helps you and the doctor decide on your treatment.
According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, if you have been diagnosed with melanoma, your doctor will take your medical history, do a thorough physical exam, and may do a biopsy of the lymph nodes. To do a biopsy, a little tissue is removed and examined. Based on these exams, your doctor usually has enough information to know if the cancer is in an early or an advanced stage.
According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, tests don’t usually help at an early stage. If your doctor says your cancer is most likely in the earliest stages, imaging tests usually don’t give any extra information. In fact, imaging tests for early-stage skin cancer may create other problems. Some doctors may order imaging tests thinking that the tests will help show if the cancer has spread, but these tests do not find skin cancers well, giving no helpful information about the size of the cancer. According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, it is unlikely that an early-stage melanoma has spread, and therefore, test results won’t give new information or change the treatment you would have had anyway. Imagining tests also have risks of false alarms, new cancers from the use of radiation, and extreme expenses.According to The Society of Surgical Oncology, you may need an imaging test if there signs that the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or beyond. In this case, imaging tests can provide useful information for your doctor.