Assessing the Potential for Patient-led Surveillance After Treatment of Localized Melanoma (MEL-SELF): A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial.

Ackermann DM, Dieng M, Medcalf E, Jenkins MC, van Kemenade CH, Janda M, Turner RM, Cust AE, Morton RL, Irwig L, Guitera P, Soyer HP, Mar V, Hersch JK, Low D, Low C, Saw RPM, Scolyer RA, Drabarek D, Espinoza D, Azzi A, Lilleyman AM, Smit AK, Murchie P, Thompson JF, Bell KJL. JAMA Dermatol. (Epub 24 Nov 2021)


Importance: Patient-led surveillance is a promising new model of follow-up care following excision of localized melanoma.

Objective: To determine whether patient-led surveillance in patients with prior localized primary cutaneous melanoma is as safe, feasible, and acceptable as clinician-led surveillance.

Design, setting, and participants: This was a pilot for a randomized clinical trial at 2 specialist-led clinics in metropolitan Sydney, Australia, and a primary care skin cancer clinic managed by general practitioners in metropolitan Newcastle, Australia. The participants were 100 patients who had been treated for localized melanoma, owned a smartphone, had a partner to assist with skin self-examination (SSE), and had been routinely attending scheduled follow-up visits. The study was conducted from November 1, 2018, to January 17, 2020, with analysis performed from September 1, 2020, to November 15, 2020.

Intervention: Participants were randomized (1:1) to 6 months of patient-led surveillance (the intervention comprised usual care plus reminders to perform SSE, patient-performed dermoscopy, teledermatologist assessment, and fast-tracked unscheduled clinic visits) or clinician-led surveillance (the control was usual care).

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was the proportion of eligible and contacted patients who were randomized. Secondary outcomes included patient-reported outcomes (eg, SSE knowledge, attitudes, and practices, psychological outcomes, other health care use) and clinical outcomes (eg, clinic visits, skin surgeries, subsequent new primary or recurrent melanoma).

Results: Of 326 patients who were eligible and contacted, 100 (31%) patients (mean [SD] age, 58.7 [12.0] years; 53 [53%] men) were randomized to patient-led (n = 49) or clinician-led (n = 51) surveillance. Data were available on patient-reported outcomes for 66 participants and on clinical outcomes for 100 participants. Compared with clinician-led surveillance, patient-led surveillance was associated with increased SSE frequency (odds ratio [OR], 3.5; 95% CI, 0.9 to 14.0) and thoroughness (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 0.8 to 5.7), had no detectable adverse effect on psychological outcomes (fear of cancer recurrence subscale score; mean difference, -1.3; 95% CI, -3.1 to 0.5), and increased clinic visits (risk ratio [RR], 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.1), skin lesion excisions (RR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.6 to 2.0), and subsequent melanoma diagnoses and subsequent melanoma diagnoses (risk difference, 10%; 95% CI, -2% to 23%). New primary melanomas and 1 local recurrence were diagnosed in 8 (16%) of the participants in the intervention group, including 5 (10%) ahead of routinely scheduled visits; and in 3 (6%) of the participants in the control group, with none (0%) ahead of routinely scheduled visits (risk difference, 10%; 95% CI, 2% to 19%).

Conclusions and relevance: This pilot of a randomized clinical trial found that patient-led surveillance after treatment of localized melanoma appears to be safe, feasible, and acceptable. Experiences from this pilot study have prompted improvements to the trial processes for the larger trial of the same intervention.