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J Clin Exp Dermatol Res. 2011;2(6). pii: 1000129.

Identifying Persons at Highest Risk of Melanoma Using Self-Assessed Risk Factors.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington, USA.



To develop a self-assessed melanoma risk score to identify high-risk persons for screening METHODS: We used data from a 1997 melanoma case-control study from Washington State, USA, where 386 cases with invasive cutaneous melanoma and 727 controls were interviewed by telephone. A logistic regression prediction model was developed on 75% of the data and validated in the remaining 25% by calculating the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), a measure of predictive accuracy from 0.5-1 (higher scores indicating better prediction). A risk score was calculated for each individual, and sensitivities for various risk cutoffs were calculated.


The final model included sex, age, hair color, density of freckles, number of severe sunburns in childhood and adolescence, number of raised moles on the arms, and history of non-melanoma skin cancer. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve(AUC) was 0.70 (95% CI: 0.64, 0.77). The top 15% risk group included 50% of melanomas (sensitivity 50%).


This self-assessed score could be used as part of a comprehensive melanoma screening and public education program to identify high-risk individuals in the general population. This study suggests it may be possible to capture a large proportion of melanomas by screening a small high-risk group. Further study is needed to determine the costs, feasibility, and risks of this approach.

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