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Spotting malignant melanoma

Nurse practitioners could be taught to recognise ‘ugly duckling’ lesions that are likely to be malignant melanomas, say US researchers.

They tested a simple observational screening method in which 34 experts, including five dermatology nurses, were asked to look at images of skin and pick out lesions that looked different from the others on the same patient.

There were five melanomas in the pictures – all of which were detected by the panel, the authors said. Only three of the 140 benign lesions were singled out as different.

‘It [the ugly duckling sign] could be taught to primary care physicians, to nurse practitioners and even to patients who are performing skin self-examination,’ they authors said.

Archives of Dermatology (2008) 144: 58-64

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