Clinical practice guidelines for identification, screening and follow-up of individuals at high risk of primary cutaneous melanoma: a systematic review

Br J Dermatol. 2015 Jan;172(1):33-47. doi: 10.1111/bjd.13403. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Understanding how individuals at high-risk of primary cutaneous melanoma are best identified, screened and followed up will help optimize melanoma prevention strategies and clinical management. We conducted a systematic review of international clinical practice guidelines and documented the quality of supporting evidence for recommendations for clinical management of individuals at high risk of melanoma. Guidelines published between January 2000 and July 2014 were identified from a systematic search of Medline, Embase and four guideline databases; 34 guidelines from 20 countries were included. High-risk characteristics that were consistently reported included many melanocytic naevi, dysplastic naevi, family history, large congenital naevi, and Fitzpatrick Type I and II skin types. Most guidelines identify risk factors and recommend that individuals at high risk of cutaneous melanoma be monitored, but only half of the guidelines provide recommendations for screening based on level of risk. There is disagreement in screening and follow-up recommendations for those with an increased risk of future melanoma. High-level evidence supports long-term screening of individuals at high risk and monitoring using dermoscopy. Evidence is low for defining screening intervals and duration of follow-up, and for skin self-examination, although education about skin self-examination is widely encouraged. Clinical practice guidelines would benefit from a dedicated section for identification, screening and follow-up of individuals at high risk of melanoma. Guidelines could be improved with clear definitions of multiple naevi, family history and frequency of follow-up. Research examining the benefits and costs of alternative management strategies for groups at high risk will enhance the quality of recommendations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Nevus / diagnosis
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*