Background: Very small pigmented lesions may represent an important diagnostic challenge to the clinician. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to establish the diagnostic value, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, of both clinical and dermoscopic examinations in a population of patients with unselected consecutive pigmented lesions with a maximum clinical diameter of 3 mm. Patients and methods: Two hundred and four consecutive patients bearing 206 pigmented skin lesions with a maximum diameter of 3 mm were seen and operated on. Twenty-three of these lesions were melanomas. Each lesion was subjected to both clinical and dermoscopic evaluation before surgery. The results were expressed in terms of sensitivity and specificity of both kinds of evaluation. Results: Clinical evaluation produced a diagnostic sensitivity of 43% and a specificity of 91%. Dermoscopy resulted in a sensitivity of 83% and in a specificity of 69%. The comparison between the sensitivity values of the two diagnostic methods showed a significant difference (P <0.01). A high value of significance was also obtained comparing the respective specificity values (P <0.001). Conclusions: Detection of very small melanomas is feasible by accurate visual inspection. Dermoscopy appears to be an important aid to diagnosis, provided that physicians are aware of this type of lesion and maintain the index of suspicion at a high level.
- Small melanoma
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