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ABSTRACT: Patients with a high number of atypical naevi and a personal and/or family history of melanoma are at high risk of malignant melanoma. The objective of this study was to design a special documentation and surveillance programme using epiluminescence microscopy (ELM) and digital epiluminescence microscopy (DELM) to improve the surveillance of these patients. High-risk patients (n=212) were categorized by the number and phenotype of their naevi and their personal and family history of melanoma. Then patients were screened by the unaided eye, conventional photography, ELM and, in selected cases of atypia, DELM. Median follow-up was 18 months, and 2939 pigmented lesions were followed by DELM. Examination on the first visit identified 17 cutaneous melanomas. During the following observation period, another 17 melanomas were identified. Fifteen of these follow-up melanomas were exclusively identified based upon DELM. In these cases, subtle lesional changes occurred over time, and ELM diagnostic algorithms for differentiating benign melanocytic lesions from melanoma did not score a suspicion of melanoma. All melanomas, either pre-existing or developing during follow-up, were identified in an early, curable phase of tumour growth. We conclude that DELM follow-up for patients at high risk allows the early detection of melanomas that have not yet acquired melanoma-typical ELM features.
European Journal of Cancer Prevention 05/2004; 13(2):133-8. · 2.97 Impact Factor