Background By dermoscopy, regression structures are substantially defined by the presence of white and blue areas in the lesion image. As fibrosis and melanosis are often seen in malignant melanoma (MM), the presence of dermoscopic signs of regression may represent a clue for the diagnosis of malignancy.
Objectives To assess the frequency and extent of dermoscopic signs of regression in melanoma in situ (MIS) and to describe its dermoscopic features.
Methods Dermoscopic images of 85 MIS, 85 invasive MMs and 85 dermoscopically equivocal lesions with a histological diagnosis of naevus were evaluated by three dermatologists, who assessed the presence of 11 parameters of regression.
Results The number of regression parameters per lesion increased according to melanoma thickness. White areas, the grey-blue veil and widespread blue areas were more frequent in invasive MMs than in the other two lesion groups, whereas light brown areas and regression of dermoscopic structures were more frequent in MIS. Peppering was observable in the same percentage of MIS and invasive MMs. Blue areas were more frequently structureless in equivocal lesions and invasive MMs, whereas the reticular pattern prevailed in MIS.
Conclusions Frequency, morphology, extent and distribution of regression vary according to melanoma thickness and diameter. Lesions with reticular blue regression and light brown areas should undergo surgical excision for the suspicion of MIS. Moreover, the identification of the reticular pattern of blue regression can be considered a significant discriminator and a reliable predictor of MIS.