Detection of Primary Melanoma in Individuals at Extreme High Risk: A Prospective 5-Year Follow-up Study
Importance The clinical phenotype and certain predisposing genetic mutations that confer increased melanoma risk are established; however, no consensus exists regarding optimal screening for such individuals. Early identification remains the most important intervention in reducing melanoma mortality.
Objective To evaluate the impact of full-body examinations every 6 months supported by dermoscopy and total-body photography (TBP) on all patients and sequential digital dermoscopy imaging (SDDI), when indicated, on detecting primary melanoma in an extreme-risk population.
Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective observational study from February 2006 to February 2011, with patients recruited from Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Centre and Melanoma Institute Australia who had a history of invasive melanoma and dysplastic nevus syndrome, history of invasive melanoma and at least 3 first-degree or second-degree relatives with prior melanoma, history of at least 2 primary invasive melanomas, or a CDKN2A or CDK4 gene mutation.
Exposures Six-month full-body examination compared with TBP. For equivocal lesions, SDDI short term (approximately 3 months) or long term (≥6 months), following established criteria, was performed. Atypical lesions were excised.
Main Outcomes and Measures New primary melanoma numbers, characteristics, and cumulative incidence in each patient subgroup; effect of diagnostic aids on new melanoma identification.
Results In 311 patients with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) follow-up of 3.5 (2.4-4.2) years, 75 primary melanomas were detected, 14 at baseline visit. Median (IQR) Breslow thickness of postbaseline incident melanomas was in situ (in situ to 0.60 mm). Thirty-eight percent were detected using TBP and 39% with SDDI. Five melanomas were greater than 1 mm Breslow thickness, 3 of which were histologically desmoplastic; the other 2 had nodular components. The benign to malignant excision ratio was 1.6:1 for all lesions excised and 4.4:1 for melanocytic lesions. Cumulative risk of developing a novel primary melanoma was 12.7% by year 2, with new primary melanoma incidence during the final 3 years of follow-up half of that observed during the first 2 years (incidence density ratio, 0.43 [95% CI, 0.25-0.74]; P = .002).
Conclusions and Relevance Monitoring patients at extreme risk with TBP and SDDI assisted with early diagnosis of primary melanoma. Hypervigilance for difficult-to-detect thick melanoma subtypes is crucial.
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(8):819-827. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.514.