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Melanoma Res. 2012 Jun;22(3):252-6. doi: 10.1097/CMR.0b013e3283527430.

Features of small melanocytic lesions: does small mean benign? A clinical-dermoscopic study.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Division of Pathological Anatomy, University of Florence, Florence, Italy. vincenzo.degiorgi@unifi.it

Abstract

The use of dermoscopy is known to increase the sensitivity and specificity in the clinical diagnosis of cutaneous pigmented melanocytic lesions compared with naked-eye examinations. However, small pigmented melanocytic lesions with maximum clinical diameters of 6 mm remain the most significant diagnostic challenge to the clinician, particularly in the diagnosis of small melanoma, both in naked-eye and in dermatoscopic examinations. The aim of the present study was to analyze the clinical and dermatoscopic features of small pigmented melanocytic lesions, focusing on more frequently occurring features in small melanoma to identify them earlier. A total of 103 pigmented melanocytic lesions with diameters less than 6 mm were analyzed. On histopathological examination, 34 of these lesions were diagnosed as melanomas and the remaining lesions (n = 69) were diagnosed as benign, melanocytic lesions. Images of cases were independently and blindly administered to three dermatologist experts in dermoscopy, who were asked to examine the clinical and dermatoscopic images of melanocytic skin lesions separately and to fill out a printed questionnaire to rate the images according to the ABCD clinical criteria and according to typical dermoscopic pattern analyses. The results of the questionnaires were then analyzed and crossed in order to rate the clinical and dermoscopic features of small pigmented lesions. Our study proved that the clinical criteria for diagnosing melanoma are not as reliable in the diagnosis of pigmented lesions of less than 6 mm diameter. However, the use of dermoscopy, even if not nullifying, allows a better classification of small, melanocytic lesions through pattern analysis.

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