The identification of ugly duckling nevi (UDN), a term used to describe a nevus that is obviously different from others on an individual, using a whole-body skin examination for intrapatient comparative analysis (IPCA) is a reliable cognitive process, according to the results of a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

In other words, when a group of expert dermatologists had access to all nevi on a given patient, they were able to decrease the number of nevi biopsied and the number needed to treat for one melanoma compared with the use of a separate analysis of each individual nevus.

“This study demonstrated that dermatologists who cannot access the patient’s entire skin and perform IPCA will not be as effective as they can be; thus, examining only a nevus that concerns the patient, examining a patient who is not undressed, or assessing only the images of suspicious lesions that were transmitted electronically will not achieve the greatest accuracy,” wrote researcher Caroline Gaudy-Marqueste, MD, PhD, of the dermatology and skin cancer department at Hôpital Timone in Marseille, France, and colleagues. “Promoting the use of IPCA in the diagnosis of melanoma may improve early detection.”