Implementation of artificial intelligence for the detection of cutaneous melanoma within a primary care setting: prevalence and types of skin cancer in outdoor enthusiasts

Ian J. Miller*, Michael Stapelberg, Nedeljka Rosic, Jeremy Hudson, Paul Coxon, James Furness, Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: 

There is enthusiasm for implementing artificial intelligence (AI) to assist clinicians detect skin cancer. Performance metrics of AI from dermoscopic images have been promising, with studies documenting sensitivity and specificity values equal to or superior to specialists for the detection of malignant melanomas (MM). Early detection rates would particularly benefit Australia, which has the worlds highest incidence of MM per capita. The detection of skin cancer may be delayed due to late screening or the inherent difficulty in diagnosing early skin cancers which often have a paucity of clinical features and may blend into sun damaged skin. Individuals who participate in outdoor sports and recreation experience high levels of intermittent ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which is associated with the development of skin cancer, including MM. This research aimed to assess the prevalence of skin cancer in individuals who regularly participate in activities outdoors and to report the performance parameters of a commercially available AI-powered software to assess the predictive risk of MM development. 

Methods: 

Cross-sectional study design incorporating a survey, total body skin cancer screening and AI-embedded software capable of predictive scoring of queried MM. 

Results: 

A total of 423 participants consisting of surfers (n = 108), swimmers (n = 60) and walkers/runners (n = 255) participated. Point prevalence for MM was highest for surfers (6.48%), followed by walkers/runners (4.3%) and swimmers (3.33%) respectively. When compared to the general Australian population, surfers had the highest odds ratio (OR) for MM (OR 119.8), followed by walkers/runners (OR 79.74), and swimmers (OR 61.61) rounded out the populations. Surfers and swimmers reported comparatively lower lifetime hours of sun exposure (5,594 and 5,686, respectively) but more significant amounts of activity within peak ultraviolet index compared with walkers/runners (9,554 h). A total of 48 suspicious pigmented lesions made up of histopathology-confirmed MM (n = 15) and benign lesions (n = 33) were identified. The performance of the AI from this clinical population was found to have a sensitivity of 53.33%, specificity of 54.44% and accuracy of 54.17%. 

Conclusions: 

Rates of both keratinocyte carcinomas and MM were notably higher in aquatic and land-based enthusiasts compared to the general Australian population. These findings further highlight the clinical importance of sun-safe protection measures and regular skin screening in individuals who spend significant time outdoors. The use of AI in the early identification of MM is promising. However, the lower-than-expected performance metrics of the AI software used in this study indicated reservations should be held before recommending this particular version of this AI software as a reliable adjunct for clinicians in skin imaging diagnostics in patients with potentially sun damaged skin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15737
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPEERJ
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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