Patient acceptance and diagnostic utility of automated digital image analysis of pigmented skin lesions

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Abstract

Background

Computerized analysis of pigmented skin lesions may help to increase diagnostic accuracy for melanoma, help to avoid unnecessary procedures and reduce health care costs.

Objectives

We evaluated both the patient acceptance and diagnostic utility of such an analysis tool in a real clinical setting.

Methods

Two hundred nine consecutive patients (median age: 34 years, range: 2–73 years), who were concerned about a pigmented skin lesion, answered a questionnaire about their attitude towards computerized analysis and their confidence in the resulting findings. Using a dermoscopy analyser, their skin lesions (n = 219) were then grouped into the categories, benign, suspicious and malignant, and results were compared with those obtained by in-person examination of dermato-oncologic experts.

Results

More than half of the patients (n = 114) would accept the use of computer analysis for melanoma screening; although 16 (14.0%) patients would accept this method solely, 98 (86.0%) patients would prefer an additional in-person examination by a dermatologist. Of the 219 pigmented skin lesions, the dermoscopic experts rated 171 (78.1%) as benign, 36 (16.4%) as suspicious and 12 (5.5%) as malignant, whereas computer analysis revealed 102 (46.6%) benign, 78 (35.6%) suspicious and 39 (17.8%) malignant lesions. At the expense of specificity (48.8%), the sensitivity of computerized analysis was excellent (100%) and equal to that of in-person examination.

Conclusions

Most patients would accept computer analysis for melanoma screening, some of them even without reservations. However, due to a high rate of false positive computer assessments, it cannot be recommended as a screening tool at this time.

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