Identification of Clinically Featureless Incipient Melanoma Using Sequential Dermoscopy Imaging | Dermatology | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network
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September 2006

Identification of Clinically Featureless Incipient Melanoma Using Sequential Dermoscopy Imaging

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of General Dermatology, Department of Dermatology, University of Vienna Medical School, Vienna, Austria (Drs Kittler, Riedl, Teban, and Dawid); Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Centre, Sydney Cancer Centre and Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (Drs Guitera, Avramidis, and Menzies); Emco Privatklinik, Bad Dürrnberg, Salzburg, Austria (Dr Fiebiger); and Division of Oncology/Pathology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (Dr Weger).

Arch Dermatol. 2006;142(9):1113-1119. doi:10.1001/archderm.142.9.1113

Objectives  To examine the role of sequential dermoscopy imaging in detecting incipient melanoma and to elucidate the impact of length of follow-up on the relevance of observed changes.

Design  Baseline and follow-up images of melanomas and melanocytic nevi excised only because of changes across time were inspected on a computer screen and assessed according to prospectively defined criteria. Lesions were stratified into 3 groups according to the length of follow-up.

Setting  Three hospital-based referral centers in Europe and Australia.

Patients  Four hundred sixty-one patients selected for digital dermoscopy monitoring.

Main Outcome Measures  Description and comparison of dermoscopy features and changes in melanomas and melanocytic nevi at baseline and after follow-up.

Results  We inspected baseline and follow-up images of 499 melanocytic skin lesions from 461 patients. The histopathologic diagnosis was melanoma in 91 cases and melanocytic nevus in 408. Most melanomas (58.2%; n = 53) were in situ, and the median thickness of invasive melanomas was 0.38 mm. Dermoscopy features of melanomas and nevi did not differ significantly at baseline. After follow-up of 1.5 to 4.5 months, 61.8% of the melanomas showed no specific dermoscopy features for melanoma. This value declined to 45.0% after follow-up of 4.5 to 8.0 months and to 35.1% after more than 8.0 months. We could not differentiate melanomas and changing nevi by means of observed changes or dermoscopy features when follow-up was shorter than 4.5 months. With longer follow-up, melanomas tended to enlarge asymmetrically with architectural and color changes, and nevi tended to enlarge symmetrically without architectural and color changes.

Conclusions  Sequential dermoscopy imaging detects incipient melanomas when they are still featureless. Interpretation of changes observed during follow-up depends on the length of follow-up.