Strategies for early melanoma detection: Approaches to the patient with nevi

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 May;60(5):719-35; quiz 736-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.10.065.


Given its propensity to metastasize and the lack of effective therapies for most patients with advanced disease, early detection of melanoma is a clinical imperative. Although there are no noninvasive techniques for the definitive diagnosis of melanoma, and the "gold standard" remains biopsy with histologic examination, a variety of modalities may facilitate early melanoma diagnosis and the detection of new and changing nevi. This article reviews the general clinical principles of early melanoma detection and various modalities that are currently available or on the horizon, providing the clinician with an up to date understanding of management strategies for their patients with numerous or atypical nevi.

Learning objective: After completing this learning activity, participants should understand the clinical importance of early melanoma detection, appreciate the challenges of early melanoma diagnosis and which patients are at highest risk, know the general principles of early melanoma detection, be familiar with current and emerging modalities that may facilitate early melanoma diagnosis and the detection of new and changing nevi, know the advantages and limitations of each modality, and be able to practice a combined approach to the patient with numerous or clinically atypical nevi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermoscopy
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Nevus / diagnosis*
  • Nevus / pathology
  • Photography / methods
  • Self-Examination
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence