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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 Sep;33(3):441-50.

Management of cutaneous malignant melanoma by dermatologists of the American Academy of Dermatology. I. Survey of biopsy practices of pigmented lesions suspected as melanoma.

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Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA.



The incidence of malignant melanoma (MM) has rapidly increased during the past five decades. Relatively little information is available on whether the role of the dermatologist has increased concomitantly in the surgical management of this cancer.


Our purpose was to learn how members of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) treat patients with lesions highly suspected as being MM and how the management of these patients may have changed over the past decade. This, the first of a two-part series, concerns biopsies.


The data for the study were collected by means of a questionnaire that was sent to all members of the AAD practicing in the United States (N = 7412).


A total of 2991 valid questionnaires were returned, a response rate of 40%. The majority of respondents (89% in 1982; 90% in 1992) stated that they performed the biopsies of pigmented lesions suspected of being MMs. Excisional biopsy was the preferred technique (58% in 1982; 68% in 1992). The type of biopsy and who performed the initial biopsy of a suspected MM were associated with the following factors: (1) the number of years in practice, (2) the type of practice, and (3) whether the dermatologist subsequently performed the definitive surgery for the MM. Regional variations in biopsy practices were also noted.


Most AAD dermatologists who responded to the questionnaire perform the biopsies of lesions highly suspected of being MM. During the last decade an increasing proportion of dermatologists are performing excisional biopsies rather than other types of biopsies for such lesions.

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