Background Early recognition and prompt excision is to date the only available strategy for reducing mortality from melanoma. Little is known about the accuracy of melanoma detection in children and adolescents. Objectives To assess the accuracy of melanoma detection in a paediatric population. Methods From the Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Graz, Austria, we reviewed the dermatopathology reports of naevi and melanomas excised in patients younger than 20 years over a 10-year period (1998-2007). Patients were subdivided into four age groups: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 years. Results Accuracy in melanoma detection was tested using the number needed to excise (NNE) value that is obtained by dividing the total number of excised lesions by the number of melanomas. A total of 22 564 lesions were reviewed, disclosing 22 526 naevi and 38 melanomas, for an overall NNE value of 593·8. Five melanomas were excised in children aged 10-14 years (NNE 1141) and 33 in children aged 15-19 years (NNE 479·8), whereas no melanomas were found among 1026 lesions excised in children younger than 10 years. In children aged 0-4 years, congenital and Spitz/Reed naevi accounted for 34·5% and 20% of lesions, respectively. These percentages decreased progressively when moving to older age groups (P <0·0001). In contrast, the percentage of dermal and compound naevi rose in direct proportion with age, being 3·4% and 20·7%, respectively, in the youngest age group, and 36·7% and 31·9%, respectively, among the oldest patients (P <0·0001). Conclusions The overall NNE value in paediatric patients over the 10-year study period was 593·8, meaning that about 594 lesions were excised to find one melanoma. This value is 20 times higher than the rates found in adult patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas