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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Oct;67(4):606-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.12.007. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Recognition of melanoma: a dermatologic clinical competency in medical student education.

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Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10022, USA.



Non-dermatologist physicians are well positioned for opportunistic melanoma detection; however, education in the skin cancer examination is limited during medical school and traditionally lecture-based. Simulating melanoma cases provides a means to demonstrate whether proficiency in knowledge and recognition of melanoma images translates into improved clinical skill.


To evaluate medical student recognition and appropriate response to a prosthetic melanoma placed on a standardized patient (SP) during a simulated clinical encounter.


In this pilot study, prosthetic mimics of melanoma were placed on the backs of SPs unbeknownst to a convenience sample of 59 second-year medical students. The study took place during clinical skills practice sessions with SPs conducted from February to April 2010 at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York, NY). SPs presented with non-dermatologic chief complaints typical for an acute office visit. All students had the opportunity to attend a lecture on the clinical signs of melanoma 2 to 4 months earlier, for which pre-test and post-test data were collected.


Recognition and evaluation of a prosthetic melanoma as determined by querying the SPs and reviewing the students' examination notes. During the SP encounter, 37 students (63%) asked about the melanoma moulage; of those, 25 (68%) made recommendations for further evaluation. The moulage was documented in 17 examination notes (43%). Thirty-three students (56%) asked about the skin on review of systems, although this did not predict moulage detection.


Prosthetic mimics of melanoma are useful tools for assessing skin cancer awareness and detection skills among medical students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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