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A single centre melanoma thickness trend (1985–2009) in relation to skin areas accessible and non-accessible to self-inspection


  • Pietro Rubegni, MD. Stefania Rossi, PhD. Niccolò Nami, MD. Massimiliano Risulo, MD. Maurizio Biagioli, MD. Clelia Miracco, MD. Michele Fimiani, MD.

  • The first two authors (PR and SR) contributed equally to this article.

  • Conflict of interest: The authors state no conflict of interest.

Professor Pietro Rubegni, Department Clinical Medicine and Immunological Science, Dermatology Section, Policlinico ‘Le Scotte’, Viale Bracci 53100 Siena, Italy. Email:


Background/Objectives:  Melanoma has become a major public health problem worldwide and its incidence in individuals of Caucasian origin continues to rise. The objective was to determine historical changes in thickness, melanoma proportions and anatomical site of presentation over a 25-year period in our Department.

Methods:  This was a historical retrospective study (January 1985 to December 2009). Only patients born and living in Italy were considered. The following parameters were evaluated: age, gender, year of diagnosis, site of primitive lesion (head, back, chest, anterior and posterior upper limbs, anterior and posterior lower limb, and acral sites) and Breslow thickness of the lesion.

Results:  In the 25-year period, 993 cases of melanoma were diagnosed. The total number of cases per year tripled between 1985–1989 and 1995–1999 and more than doubled between 1995–1999 and 2005–2009. Our results also revealed that thicker melanomas were more frequent in elderly patients and on parts of the body that cannot be readily self-inspected.

Conclusion:  The importance of observation of the posterior parts of the body is stressed, since not only did most melanomas arise in these sites but the diagnosis of lesions in these sites is often delayed.