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.

J Eur Acad Dermal Venereol. 2012; 26(3):368-372 2011                                                        © The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology © 2011 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

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