Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the use of melanoma surveillance photography to the Improve early detection of MelanomA in ultra-hiGh and high-risk patiEnts (the IMAGE trial).

Yan MK, Cust AE, Soyer HP, Janda M, Loewe K, Byars G, Fishburn P, White P, Mahumud RA, Saw RPM, Herschtal A, Fernandez-Penas P, Guitera P, Morton RL, Kelly J, Wolfe R, Mar VJ.  Trials. 2023 Mar 29;24(1):236. doi: 10.1186/s13063-023-07203-5. PMID: 36991460; PMCID: PMC10061902


Introduction: Melanoma surveillance photography (MSP) is a comprehensive surveillance method that comprises two- or three-dimensional total body photography with tagged digital dermoscopy, performed at prescribed intervals. It has the potential to reduce unnecessary biopsies and enhance early detection of melanoma, but it is not yet standard care for all high-risk patients in Australia. This protocol describes a randomised controlled trial (RCT) designed to evaluate the clinical impact and cost-effectiveness of using MSP for the surveillance of individuals at ultra-high or high risk of melanoma from a health system perspective.

Methods and design: This is a registry-based, unblinded, multi-site, parallel-arm RCT that will be conducted over 3 years. We aim to recruit 580 participants from three Australian states: Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, via state cancer registries or direct referral from clinicians. Eligible participants within 24 months of a primary cutaneous melanoma diagnosis will be randomised 1:1 to receive either MSP in addition to their routine clinical surveillance (intervention group) or routine clinical surveillance without MSP (control group). Most participants will continue surveillance with their usual care provider, and the frequency of follow-up visits in both groups will depend on the stage of their primary melanoma and risk factors. The primary outcome measure of the study is the number of unnecessary biopsies (i.e. false positives, being cases where a lesion is biopsied due to suspected melanoma on clinical examination, either with or without MSP, but the resulting histopathology finding is negative for melanoma). Secondary outcomes include the evaluation of health economic outcomes, quality of life and patient acceptability. Two sub-studies will explore the benefit of MSP in high-risk patients prior to a melanoma diagnosis and the diagnostic performance of MSP in the teledermatology setting compared to the en face clinical setting.

Discussion: This trial will determine the clinical efficacy, cost-effectiveness and affordability of MSP to facilitate policy decision-making at the national and local levels, across primary and specialist care.