Strategies for early recognition of cutaneous melanoma—present and future

Strategies for early recognition of cutaneous melanoma—present and future


  • Franziska Brehmer Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany
  • Marina Ulrich Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Holger A. Haenssle Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany


cutaneous melanoma, melanoma risk factors, early recognition, dermoscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy


Cutaneous melanoma is a highly aggressive malignant tumor of skin melanocytes with an increasing incidence in most countries of the world, especially in the fair-skinned populations. Despite all preventive and therapeutic efforts, malignant melanoma is still the most lethal skin cancer. A delayed diagnosis results in an advanced stage and worsened prognosis. Once distant metastases are present, the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent. At the same time, patients may be cured by an early diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma followed by a wide excision. Therefore, the early detection of melanoma at curable stages is crucial for the patients’ survival. Besides the investigation of pigmented lesions with the unaided eye, a wide range of examination techniques for improved diagnostic accuracy have been developed and validated in clinical trials. However, none of these techniques are able to provide a definite and final diagnosis or to replace an excisional biopsy of suspicious lesions followed by histological analysis. This review provides a concise overview of general principles as well as current and future strategies for an improved early diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma.


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How to Cite

Strategies for early recognition of cutaneous melanoma—present and future. Dermatol Pract Concept [Internet]. 2012 Jul. 31 [cited 2024 Jul. 13];:29-37. Available from: