Assessing the potential for patient-led surveillance after treatment of localized melanoma: A pilot randomized controlled trial (the MEL-SELF pilot trial)

Deonna M. Ackermann, Mbathio Dieng, Ellie Medcalf, Cathelijne H. van Kemenade, Marisa C Jenkins, Monika Janda, Robin M. Turner, Anne E. Cust, Rachael L. Morton, Rachael L. Morton, Les Irwig, Les Irwig, Pascale Guitera, H. Peter Soyer, Victoria Mar, Jolyn K. Hersch, Donald Low, Cynthia Low, Robyn P.M. Saw, Richard A. ScolyerDorothy Drabarek, David Espinoza, Anthony Azzi, Alister Lilleyman, Amelia K. Smit, Peter Murchie, John F. Thompson, Katy J.L. Bell* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


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 compared with clinician-led surveillance in patients with prior localized primary cutaneous melanoma is safe, feasible and acceptable.

Design Randomized controlled trial.

Setting Two specialist-led clinics in metropolitan Sydney and a primary care skin cancer clinic run by general practitioners in metropolitan Newcastle.

Participants 100 patients previously treated for localized melanoma, who owned a
smartphone, had a partner to assist with skin self-examination (SSE), and were attending routinely scheduled follow-up.

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

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


Between November 2018 and May 2019, 326 patients were found to be
eligible and contacted, and 100 (31%; 95%CI:26% to 36%) were randomized to patient-led surveillance (n=49) or clinician-led surveillance (n=51). 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 increased SSE frequency and thoroughness, had no detectable effect on psychological outcomes, but did increase clinic visits, skin lesion excisions, and subsequent new primary melanoma diagnoses. New primary melanomas and one local recurrence were diagnosed in 8 intervention group participants (16%) including 5 at unscheduled visits (10%), and 3 control group participants (6%), with none at unscheduled visits (0%) (between-group difference: 10%; 95%CI: 2% to 19%).

Conclusion Patient-led surveillance following treatment of localized melanoma appears safe, feasible and acceptable. Difficulties that some participants experienced with adherence, response to questionnaires, and retention in the trial, as well the potential of the intervention to cause medical overuse, have prompted changes to trial processes for a larger trial of the same intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages11
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

JFT is a recipient of an NHMRC Program Grant (1093017). RPMS is supported by Melanoma Institute Australia. RAS is supported by an
408 NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship Grant (1141295). Support from colleagues at
Melanoma Institute Australia and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is also gratefully acknowledged. RLM is supported with an NHMRC Investigator grant (1194703).
HPS holds NHMRC grants (1062935, 1099021,1137127) MJa was supported by an
NHMRC TRIP Fellowship 2018-20 (1151021). JH is supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (1112509). KLJB is supported by an NHMRC Investigator Grant 21(1174523), The MELSELF pilot RCT was funded through a NHMRC Project grant (1163054), a NHMRC Program grant (402764), and Friends of Mater Research Foundation (2016, 2017) grants.


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