Cochrane review: HFUS of uncertain benefit for skin cancer diagnosis

  • Dinnes J & al.
  • Cochrane Database Syst Rev
  • 3 Dec 2018

  • curated by Brian Richardson, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • A Cochrane systematic review concludes that there are insufficient data regarding the value of high-frequency ultrasound (HFUS) for the diagnosis of melanoma or basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

Why this matters

  • Early detection of skin cancer is essential for patient management and improved outcomes.

Key results

  • Using qualitative HFUS features, derived sensitivity was ≥83% for the detection of melanoma.
    • In 2 studies, combining the assessment of lesions appearing hypoechoic, homogenous, and well-defined resulted in 100% sensitivity.
    • Specificity varied between 33% and 73%.
  • In 2 studies, use of quantitative HFUS features resulted in 100% sensitivity for both, and specificity of 93% and 65%, respectively.
  • No summary statements were made for BCC diagnosis because of variable sensitivity and specificity in the included studies.

Study design

  • 6 studies comprising 29 data sets (20 for melanoma diagnosis with 1125 lesions and 242 melanomas, and 9 for BCC diagnosis with 993 lesions and 119 BCCs) were included.
  • Funding: National Institute for Health Research via Cochrane Infrastructure funding.

Limitations

  • Heterogeneity between studies did not allow pooled analysis.
  • Included studies were small.

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