Background: Regular skin self-examination is suggested as a means to detect melanomas at an early stage and thus improve prognosis. Compliance, however, has seldom been assessed in a routine clinical setting and anonymously.
Objectives: To assess compliance with self-examination in patients with either a previous melanoma or atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) and to examine the perceived utility of supplied photographs.
Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was sent to all patients seen with either a melanoma or atypical moles between the years 1995 and 2005. The melanoma cohort consisted of 143 patients. There were 440 patients with atypical moles.
Results: Replies to the questionnaire were received from 94 of the melanoma patients and from 185 patients in the atypical mole cohort. Only 22% (12) in the melanoma group performed a total skin examination monthly. Fewer than 10% of those with atypical moles did a monthly skin examination, but about half of the patients examined their entire skin more than once a year.
Conclusion: Self-examination is practiced in the majority of patients with either a previous melanoma or atypical moles. Those doing this on a regular monthly basis are a small minority.