Baseline factors influencing decisions on digital follow-up of melanocytic lesions in daily practice: An Italian multicenter survey

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Abstract

Background

Guidelines for optimized use of digital follow-up of melanocytic lesions are not yet available, and little is known about inclusion criteria adopted in clinical practice.

Objective

Our purpose was to describe the frequency of digital follow-up adoption in melanoma screening, the characteristics of patients and lesions selected, and the predictors of duration of the intervals of digital follow-up.

Methods

Baseline characteristics of patients and lesions selected for digital follow-up in 12 Italian pigmented lesion clinics were examined. Predictors of a short follow-up interval (≤3 months) compared with a 6-month interval were investigated by means of logistic regression analysis.

Results

Out of 2116 subjects consecutively examined, 409 were submitted to digital follow-up (19.3%), with 1.6 mean lesions found per patient (range, 1–9; median, 1). According to an a posteriori analysis, 15.2% of the lesions were diagnostically equivocal and 7.8% of lesions had a total dermoscopy score (TDS) suggestive of malignancy. However, large differences in the TDS were found among the participating centers. Determinants of a short follow-up interval, adopted in 40.8% of patients, were the personal history of melanoma (odds ratio [OR] 2.56, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09–5.99) and the presence of atypical nevi (at least one atypical nevus (OR 4.54, 95% CI 2.45–8.42). Unexpectedly, the dermoscopic atypia of the lesion (TDS >4.75) was associated only with a marginal effect on the scheduled duration of follow-up interval (OR 1.34, 95% CI 0.97–1.86). These findings were confirmed by a multivariate analysis.

Limitations

The adoption of different digital dermoscopy systems in the participating centers may have limited the reliability of the TDS assigned by a central group to dermoscopy images.

Conclusions

Practicing dermatologists who use digital epiluminescence microscopy in screening for melanoma decided to submit at least one melanocytic lesion to digital follow-up for approximately 1 patient for every 5 examined. This implies costs and time spent that need to be evaluated together with the benefits of this procedure from a large-scale perspective. The lack of well-defined guidelines for inclusion and exclusion criteria may hamper optimized use of digital follow-up in daily practice.

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