Compliance with self-examination surveillance in patients with melanoma and atypical moles: an anonymous questionnaire study

J Cutan Med Surg. 2011 Mar-Apr;15(2):97-102. doi: 10.2310/7750.2011.10011.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Patient Compliance* / statistics & numerical data
  • Photography
  • Self-Examination* / statistics & numerical data
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires