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Prospective evaluation of follow-up in melanoma patients in Germany – Results of a multicentre and longitudinal study

European Journal of Cancer



Patient numbers requiring long-term melanoma surveillance are constantly rising. Surveillance is costly and guideline recommendations vary substantially.


In this German nationwide study, information on surveillance and treatment of patients diagnosed with melanoma and melanoma in situ (MMis) between April and June 2008 was prospectively collected over four years. Additionally, patient self-report questionnaires were evaluated to assess anxiety, depression, health-related quality of life, socio-demographic information and use of disease specific health information sources at year 4 after primary diagnosis.


Complete data was available for 668 patients from 67 centres, of whom 96.0% were in regular melanoma surveillance. In year 3–4 of surveillance, only 55.6% of locoregionary metastases were detected during surveillance visits. Only 33.3% were self-detected by the patient even though 69.4% were documented as being clinically visible or palpable. Costs of 4 year surveillance of 550 patients without tumour recurrence (stage I–IIC and MMis) accumulated to 228,155.75 €. Guideline-adherence for follow-up frequency, lymph node ultrasound, S100 serum level tests and diagnostic imaging recommendations was approximately 60% in year 3–4 of surveillance. Multivariate regression analysis showed that certain patient/tumour characteristics and regional differences were significantly associated with guideline deviations. The percentage of patients who exceeded published cut-off scores indicating clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety and depression were significantly increased. Patients frequently reported lack of psychosocial support and education but ascribed great importance to these.


We recommend further reduction of melanoma follow-up in low-risk melanoma patients and improvement of psycho-social support and patient education for all melanoma patients.

Keywords: Melanoma, Guideline, Follow-up, Recurrence, Costs, Psychosocial support, Patient education, Cost-effectiveness, Surveillance.


a Dept. of Dermatology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Hufelandstr. 55, 45122 Essen, Germany

b Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Hufelandstr. 55, 45122 Essen, Germany

c Dept. of Dermatology, University Tübingen, Liebermeisterstr. 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

d Alcedis GmbH, Winchesterstr. 3, 35394 Gießen, Germany

e Dept. of Dermatology, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Schittenhelmstr. 7, 24105 Kiel, Germany

f Dept. of Dermatology Kassel, Clinical Centre Kassel, Mönchebergstr. 41, 34125 Kassel, Germany

g Dept. of Dermatology, University Medical Centre Freiburg, Hauptstr. 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany

h Dept. of Dermatology, University Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, 93053 Regensburg, Germany

i Dept. of Dermatology, Clinical Centre Ludwigshafen, Bremserstr. 79, 67073 Ludwigshafen, Germany

j Dept. of Dermatology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstr. 56, 44791 Bochum, Germany

k Dept. of Dermatology, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Frauenlobstrasse 9-11, 80337 München, Germany

l Dept. of Dermatology, Elbekliniken Stade-Buxtehude GmbH, Am Krankenhaus 1, 21614 Buxtehude, Germany

m Skin Cancer Unit, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

n Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology, University Medical Centre Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3, 68167 Mannheim, Germany

lowast Corresponding author at: Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45147 Essen, Germany. Tel.: +49 2017234342; fax: +49 2017235935.

Joint project of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Dermatologische Onkologie (Dermatologic Cooperative Oncology Group, DeCOG) the Deutsche Dermatologische Gesellschaft (German Society of Dermatologists DDG) and the Berufsverband der Deutschen Dermatologen (Professional Organization of German Dermatologists BVDD).

STROBE statement fulfilled.