[3 min read] Dysplastic naevi genetic makeup

dysplastic naevi

This month, I share a useful review article on the often vexed topic of dysplastic naevi. The article summarises new understandings about the genetic makeup of benign and dysplastic naevi, as well as melanoma.

Continue reading “[3 min read] Dysplastic naevi genetic makeup”

[3 min read] What to do when a partial biopsy of a suspected melanoma is performed

partial biopsy

This month, we consider what to do when a partial biopsy of a suspected melanoma is performed.

The general advice is that if a punch or shave (partial) biopsy has been done, then an excision biopsy should be done before a formal wide-local excision. This is so that complete staging (of Breslow thickness) can be assured before the excision is done. Continue reading “[3 min read] What to do when a partial biopsy of a suspected melanoma is performed”

[7 min watch] Skin Cancer Update with Prof Giuseppe Argenziano [March 2019]

Skin cancer update

In this month’s skin cancer update video, Professor Giuseppe Argenziano talks about atypical melanocytic lesions: lesions that are histopathologically in between a melanoma and a naevus, with subtle melanoma criteria that are not enough for the pathologist to diagnose the lesion as a melanoma. Continue reading “[7 min watch] Skin Cancer Update with Prof Giuseppe Argenziano [March 2019]”

[3 min read] The problem of dysplastic naevi

dysplastic naevi

We all continue to be plagued by the problem of dysplastic naevi, and especially what to do if we biopsy these lesions and the pathology report comes back with “margins involved”. What should we do? Continue reading “[3 min read] The problem of dysplastic naevi”

[3 min read] Are negative margins in BCC biopsies an accurate predictor of residual disease?


Pathology reports of basal cell carcinoma biopsies often contain comments of positive or negative margins, with only one to two per cent of the margin evaluated. A recent study sought to determine the negative predictive value of basal cell carcinoma biopsy margin status on the absence of residual basal cell carcinoma in the corresponding excision.

Continue reading “[3 min read] Are negative margins in BCC biopsies an accurate predictor of residual disease?”

[Review] Skin Cancer Summit & Masterclasses 2018

25 – 28 July 2018 | Brisbane 

The 10th Skin Cancer Summit & Masterclasses saw international thought leaders in skin cancer medicine converge in Brisbane to collaborate with GPs from across Australia. The 2018 program once again covered a broad range of topics relevant to doctors working in primary care skin cancer medicine. The Masterclasses focused on core day-to-day material, as a way to reinforce and extend knowledge. The two-day Summit opened up new areas of study, enquiry and interest.



Dermoscopy Masterclass: 25 July 2018

The first Masterclass focused on diagnosis through dermoscopy and was run by Prof Ash Marghoob (USA) and Dr Aimilios Lallas (Greece).

Dr Lallas used the concept of false positive and false negative diagnoses to reinforce our diagnostic accuracy. Clearly, as morphology overlaps the distinction between what is a cancer, and what is not, can provide confusion.

This broad concept was beautifully extended by Prof Marghoob through his presentation on difficult to diagnose melanomas. As we all know, the easy ones are easy. It is the hard-to-diagnose that we risk missing!

The session then moved into important body sites – the face and acral areas, which are important because the morphology of lesions on these sites is different from morphology on other sites. If we don’t understand this and know how the appearances differ, then we can’t accurately recognise cancers.

Our presenters then extended these important concepts to difficult to diagnose non-melanoma skin cancers, as it is not just melanomas that can be tricky. And, as always, we finished with a series of interactive cases.


Surgery Masterclass: 26 July 2018

The second Masterclass covered surgery of the ear. The ear, of course, is a common site for skin cancer because it is so exposed to solar damage. Ear surgery is important because cosmetic results are very visible to the patient and others. So, it is essential to get the surgery right, cure the cancer, and repair the defect as sympathetically as possible.

Dr Con Pappas and Dr Tony Azzi provided a comprehensive overview of how to prepare for and conduct surgery of the ear, across almost all imaginable lesions.


Summit: 27-28 July 2018


The Summit program is deliberately designed to be a mix of very practical, everyday material that supports our daily practice.

This year, key examples of these sessions were those on ‘effectiveness of dermoscopy’, ‘why we miss melanoma’, and ‘radiation oncology’. We also ran sessions that we hope will keep you and your patients safe, including ‘what interests the watchdog’ and ‘monitoring tips and traps’.


We deliberately moved into the future and sought to explore and speculate on what might be. It is clear that artificial intelligence is already with us, and yet most of us don’t really see what is happening and what might be coming. As educated and interested professionals, it is worth being aware of these trends.

We also like to keep you across what is happening outside clinical practice, in areas that are relevant to running your business. So, our sessions on how to run a successful business, and how others organise their own practices, are always very popular.


Skin Cancer Institute Gala Dinner

The Skin Cancer Summit closed with a Gala Dinner at the Queensland Cricketers’ Club. Hosted by the Skin Cancer Institute, the inaugural ‘White Out Skin Cancer’ Gala Dinner donated all proceeds to QIMR Berghofer. The delegates’ generosity and support will make a difference to many lives as we take a step closer to our vision of a world where nobody dies from skin cancer.



How can computer vision aid in melanoma detection?

computer vision

How can computer vision aid in melanoma detection? A study recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology compared the diagnostic accuracy of computer algorithms to dermatologists using dermoscopic images.

The study involved 100 randomly selected dermoscopic images comprising of 50 melanomas, 44 naevi, and six lentigines. Researchers used both non-learned and machine learning methods to combine individual automated predictions into “fusion” algorithms. In a companion study, eight dermatologists classified the lesions in the 100 images as either benign or malignant. Continue reading “How can computer vision aid in melanoma detection?”

Accuracy of Pathology Diagnosis of Melanoma

dysplastic nevi

Our paper this month comes from Elmore et al, published in the BMJ. The authors set out to determine the accuracy and reproducibility of pathology diagnosis of melanocytic skin lesions. The study was done across the USA and included 240 skin biopsies, and almost 200 pathologists viewed the slides twice, eight months apart.

Continue reading “Accuracy of Pathology Diagnosis of Melanoma”

Mohz Micrographic Surgery vs. Wide Local Excision for Melanoma In Situ

Micrographic Surgery

A recent research article from Nosrati et al, reports on the outcomes of patients with melanoma in situ, treated by either wide local excision or Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS).

Now, most Australian doctors would not consider this surgery for melanoma in situ – we would follow our national guidelines and excise melanomas with 5mm clinical margins. Many GPs do exactly this – measure out 5mm margins and excise and close, usually with an elipse, or with a flap or graft if necessary.

Continue reading “Mohz Micrographic Surgery vs. Wide Local Excision for Melanoma In Situ”

The Big 3: BCC, SCC, Melanoma – SCC Neck Excision

If you perform skin cancer surgery in your practice, please watch the 5-minute video below. The experienced skin cancer doctor Hamilton Ayres presents an interesting case of a SCC on his patient’s neck – a highly sensitive anatomical area often referred to as “tiger country”. Dr Ayres explains how you can perform excisions in these areas and addresses various factors you need to consider when removing skin cancer on the neck. Continue reading “The Big 3: BCC, SCC, Melanoma – SCC Neck Excision”