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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Jul;67(1):e17-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.04.008. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Benefits of total body photography and digital dermatoscopy ("two-step method of digital follow-up") in the early diagnosis of melanoma in patients at high risk for melanoma.

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Melanoma Unit, Dermatology Department, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Institut d'investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain.



Early detection of melanoma is the best way to improve prognosis. Digital follow-up (DFU) programs of populations at high risk could be an efficient strategy for detecting early melanomas with low morbidity.


We sought to report the added value of the use of the "two-step method" (digital total body photography and digital dermatoscopy).


This was an analysis of the surveillance of 618 patients at high risk for melanoma included in our DFU program from 1999 to 2008.


A total of 11,396 lesions were monitored (mean 18.44/patient) during a median follow-up of 96 months (median 10 visits/patient). A total of 1152 lesions, 1.86 per patient, were excised. Almost 70% (798) were lesions previously registered at least twice, whereas 356 (30%) were detected and removed in the same visit. During follow-up, 98 melanomas (8.5% of excised lesions) were diagnosed in 78 patients (12.6%). In all, 53 melanomas were in situ (53.3%), whereas invasive (45) showed a Breslow index of less than 1 mm (median 0.5 mm) and none were ulcerated.


Because there are no control groups we cannot determine if the combined use of total body photography and digital dermatoscopy is more beneficial than these techniques used separately.


DFU with total body photography and dermatoscopy in a selected population at high risk demonstrated the early detection of melanomas with a low rate of excisions. Long-term follow-up is required to allow the detection of slow-growing melanomas. Based on our 10-year experience, melanomas can be diagnosed at any time, suggesting that in a population at high risk for melanoma, DFU should be maintained over time.

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