Is skin self-examination for cutaneous melanoma detection still adequate? A retrospective study

Dermatology. 2012;225(1):31-6. doi: 10.1159/000339774. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


Objective: The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze the relationship between detection pattern, tumor thickness, patient demographics, and personal and family history of melanoma in the era of noninvasive diagnosis.

Methods: All patients with primary cutaneous melanoma who presented to the Department of Dermatology at the University of Florence between January 2000 and November 2010 were interviewed at the time of their final histopathological diagnoses of melanoma as part of their clinical record. The treating physician specifically questioned all patients about who had first detected or suspected the lesion that resulted in the histological diagnosis of melanoma.

Results: A total of 802 melanoma patients were analyzed. The spouse found approximately 16% of the melanomas, and a similar percentage was discovered by the general practitioner. The largest group of melanomas (36%) was discovered during regular annual skin examinations by dermatologists, while another large group (33%) were discovered by the patients themselves. The data that emerged from our study is that self-detection was associated with a greater probability of having a thick melanoma and, therefore, a poor prognosis (odds ratio 1.56).

Conclusions: Because the current mortality of melanoma is still stable, we are convinced that a new message should be introduced to encourage high-risk patients to have an annual skin examination as a rule.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Examination / methods
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Tests
  • Time Factors