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J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Oct;133(10):2355-61. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.183. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

Evidence of a limited intra-individual diversity of nevi: intuitive perception of dominant clusters is a crucial step in the analysis of nevi by dermatologists.

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  • 1Laboratory of Sciences and Information Systems, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France.


Although nevi are highly polymorphous, it has been suggested that each individual is characterized by only a few dominant patterns of nevi. Therefore, a nevus that does not fit in with these patterns, the "ugly duckling" nevus, is suspicious. Our objective was to study the intra-individual diversity of nevi, using human ability to build "perceived similarity clusters" (PSCs). Nine dermatologists had to cluster all the nevi of 80 patients into PSCs, at the clinical scale (CS) and at the dermoscopic scale (DS) (subset of 30 patients). Nine novices did the same in a subset of 11 patients. The experts identified a mean of 2.8 PSCs/patient at CS. Concordance was higher between experts than between novices at CS and at DS. Despite a trend for more PSCs at DS than at CS, the number of nevus patterns per patient remained low, regardless of the number of nevi. Inter-expert concordance permits a consensus representation of nevus diversity in each individual. Nevus diversity is limited in each patient and constitutes an individual reference system, which we can intuitively perceive. This reference is probably crucial for nevus analysis and melanoma detection and opens perspectives for computer-aided diagnostics.

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