Computer-assisted melanoma diagnosis: a new integrated system

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Abstract

In dermatology, attempts at synergy between man and machine have mainly been made to improve melanoma diagnosis. The aim of the present study was to test an ‘integrated digital dermoscopy analysis’ (i-DDA) system with a series of melanocytic lesions that were benign and malignant in nature, and to evaluate its discriminating power with respect to histological diagnosis. In a retrospective study we used an i-DDA system to evaluate a series of 856 excised, clinically atypical pigmented skin lesions (584 benign and 272 malignant). The system evaluated 48 parameters to be studied as possible discriminant variables, grouped into four categories (geometries, colours, textures and islands of colour) integrated with three personal metadata items (sex, age and site of lesion) and presence/absence of three dermoscopic patterns (regression structures, blue-white veil and polymorphic vascular structures). Stepwise multivariate logistic regression of i-DDA data selected nine variables with the highest possible discriminant power. At the end of the stepwise procedure the percentage of cases correctly classified by i-DDA was 89.2% (100% sensitivity and 40.8% specificity). The limitations of the study included those associated with a retrospective design and the ‘a priori’ exclusion of nonmelanocytic skin lesions. By incorporating numerical digital features with personal data and some dermoscopic patterns into the learning process, the proposed i-DDA improved the performance of assisted melanoma diagnosis, with the advantage that our results can be objectively repeated in any other clinical setting.

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