Has COVID-19 Affected Treatment Options for Skin Cancer?

The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has continued to spread for far longer than many people anticipated it would. It has been nearly a year since the news of the outbreak first emerged and we continue to look for ways to flatten the curve. For a short time, the best strategy seemed to involve the widespread closure of all non-essential businesses. Understandably, patients who had been treated for or considering treatment for skin cancer have been concerned. Here, we discuss how COVID-19 has affected healthcare and how patients can continue to successfully address skin cancer as needed.

How COVID-19 Has Affected Health Care

Starting in the Springtime, many patients experienced a delay in getting help either obtaining a diagnosis or getting treatment for a diagnosis. Since that time, though, new ways of meeting patient needs have been developed. Earlier in the year, many dermatologists rescheduled all nonessential visits. Within a few months, practices had established ways of continuing to provide care, including scheduling teledermatology visits. If you are a dermatologist offering skin cancer treatment and have not developed an avenue of care for patients who cannot safely attend in-person visits, you may want to do so. We may not be “in the clear” with the coronavirus for several more months.

What Patients Can Do

If you are a patient with signs of skin cancer or who has been diagnosed with skin cancer, contact your treating physician to see if they offer telemedicine visits. We have learned enough about COVID-19 to implement safe practices to inhibit its spread. If your doctor is still conducting in-person visits, ask them to describe the safety measures they have in place to protect their patients. Remember, too, that even if your doctor is open, telehealth may still be an option.

Is Teledermatology a Viable Solution?

One of the ways that dermatology works is via a physical and visual examination of the skin. Can teledermatology offer the level of care that is needed for effective diagnosis and treatment planning? It can. Doctors that offer teledermatology have patients take photos of their skin. Apps have even been developed to remind patients to perform periodic self-examinations to monitor any changes to suspicious growths. Photos may also be kept as a part of the patient’s medical record, allowing the doctor to also monitor changes. Finally, doctors can often provide follow-up care via telemedicine for patients who have recently undergone skin cancer treatment.

The American Society for Mohs Surgery is committed to supporting physicians through the ever-changing world of medicine. For more information on membership and courses, call (800) 616-2767.

Posted in: TeleMedicine

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