Clinical and dermoscopic characterization of pediatric and adolescent melanomas: Multicenter study of 52 cases

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Feb;78(2):278-288. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.09.065. Epub 2017 Oct 9.


Background: Knowledge regarding the morphologic spectrum of pediatric melanoma (PM) is sparse, and this may in part contribute to delay in detection and thicker tumors.

Objective: To analyze the clinicodermoscopic characteristics of PM.

Methods: Retrospective study of 52 melanomas diagnosed in patients before the age of 20 years.

Results: On the basis of its clinical, dermoscopic, and histopathologic characteristics, PM can be classified as spitzoid or nonspitzoid. The nonspitzoid melanomas (n = 37 [72.3%]) presented in patients with a mean age of 16.3 years (range, 8-20) and were associated with a high-risk phenotype and a pre-existing nevus (62.2%). The spitzoid melanomas (n = 15 [27.7%]) were diagnosed in patients at a mean age of 12.5 years (range, 2-19) and were mostly de novo lesions (73.3%) located on the limbs (73.3%). Whereas less than 25% of PMs fulfilled the modified clinical ABCD criteria (amelanotic, bleeding bump, color uniformity, de novo at any diameter), 40% of spitzoid melanomas did. Dermoscopic melanoma criteria were found in all cases. Nonspitzoid melanomas tended to be multicomponent (58.3%) or have nevus-like (25%) dermoscopic patterns. Spitzoid melanomas revealed atypical vascular patterns with shiny white lines (46.2%) or an atypical pigmented spitzoid pattern (30.8%). There was good correlation between spitzoid subtype histopathologically and dermoscopically (κ = 0.66).

Limitations: A retrospective study without re-review of pathologic findings.

Conclusion: Dermoscopy in addition to conventional and modified clinical ABCD criteria helps in detecting PM. Dermoscopy assists in differentiating spitzoid from nonspitzoid melanomas.

Keywords: Spitz; childhood; dermoscopy; detection; melanoma; pediatric melanoma; spitzoid.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermoscopy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Nevus / complications
  • Phenotype
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Ulcer / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Ulcer / etiology
  • Young Adult