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Clin Exp Dermatol. 2004 Nov;29(6):593-6.

Self-detected cutaneous melanomas in Italian patients.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Florence, Italy.


Self-detection of suspicious pigmented skin lesion combined with rapid referral to dermatologic centres is the key strategy in the fight against melanoma. The investigation of factors associated with pattern of detection of melanoma (self- vs. nonself-detection) may be useful to refine educational strategies for the future. We investigated the frequency of melanoma self-detection in a Mediterranean population at intermediate melanoma risk. A multicentric survey identified 816 consecutive cases of cutaneous melanoma in the period January to December 2001 in 11 Italian clinical centres belonging to the Italian Multidisciplinary Group on Melanoma. All patients filled a standardized questionnaire and were clinically examined by expert dermatologists. Self-detected melanomas were 40.6%, while the remaining lesions were detected by a dermatologist (18.5%), the family physician (15.2%), other specialists (5%), the spouse (12.5%), a friend or someone else (8.2%). Variables associated with self-detected melanomas were female sex, young age, absence of atypical nevi, knowledge of the ABCD rule, habit of performing skin self-examination. Self-detected melanomas did not differ from nonself-detected tumours in term of lesion thickness; however, patients with self-detected melanomas waited a longer period before having a diagnostic confirmation (patient's delay) (> 3 months: odds ratio, 3.89; 95% confidence interval, 2.74-5.53). In order to reduce the patients' delays, educational messages should adequately stress the need for a prompt referral to a physician once a suspicious pigmented lesion is self-detected.

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