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October 1975

Diagnostic Accuracy in Malignant Melanoma

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, and the Pigmented Lesion Section, Skin and Cancer Unit, New York University Medical Center, New York.

Arch Dermatol. 1975;111(10):1291-1292. doi:10.1001/archderm.1975.01630220055001

• The diagnostic accuracy and index of suspicion concerning malignant melanoma were calculated based on review of 5,538 histologically examined lesions (of which 99 were melanomas) that were recorded in the Oncology Section of the Skin and Cancer Unit from 1955 to 1967. The diagnostic accuracy of the physicians in the Section was determined to be 64.4%. Thus, in almost one of every three melanomas an error in clinical diagnosis was made. This "batting average" is, however, better than those of previously published reports.

The index of suspicion in relation to malignant melanoma in our series was 96%. Thus, the physicians in the Oncology Section demonstrated an appropriate awareness of this tumor. However, coupled with a diagnostic accuracy of 64%, a problem nevertheless exists in the diagnosis of this serious cutaneous cancer.

Our study emphasizes the importance of having histologic verification prior to definitive radical surgery on patients with malignant melanoma.

(Arch Dermatol 111:1291-1292, 1975)

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