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Follow-up care for patients who have undergone potentially curative resection of cutaneous melanoma varies widely among physicians, and the underlying rationale has not been assessed. To quantify current practice patterns and to discern motivation, a custom-designed questionnaire was mailed to U.S. and non-U.S. surgeons, all of whom were members of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS). Surveys were mailed to 3032 ASPRS members, chosen randomly from a total of 4320 members. Of the 1142 questionnaires that were returned, 395 were evaluable. Nonevaluability was usually due to lack of melanoma patients receiving follow-up in the surgeons' practices. Surveillance of patients after resection of melanoma relies most heavily on office visit, chest x-ray, complete blood count, and liver function tests. There was surprisingly little influence of elective node dissection on follow-up practices. Imaging tests such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and position emission tomography scan were rarely employed. Surveillance is motivated by many factors, particularly early detection of recurrence of the index melanoma and second primary melanomas. This survey provides information regarding current follow-up strategies recommended by ASPRS surgeons after potentially curative resection of cutaneous melanoma. There is considerable variation in surveillance intensity and in motivation among practitioners, thus representing a lack of consensus.

(C)2000American Society of Plastic Surgeons