Dermoscopy for the Identification of Amelanotic Acral Melanoma

Document Type


Publication Date



Family Medicine

Journal Title

Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association

MeSH Headings

Humans; Female; Middle Aged; Melanoma, Amelanotic (diagnostic imaging, therapy); Granuloma, Pyogenic (diagnostic imaging); Dermoscopy; Skin Neoplasms (diagnostic imaging); Sweat Gland Neoplasms


Acral lentiginous melanoma is commonly misdiagnosed, and when detected late it portends a poor prognosis. Acral lentiginous melanoma can be mistaken for verruca, pyogenic granuloma, poroma, an ulcer, or other benign skin conditions. Patients with acral skin growths often present initially to a podiatric physician or their primary care physician. It is at this point when the growth is triaged as benign or potentially malignant. Dermoscopy aids in this decision making. Historically, dermoscopy training has been geared toward dermatologists, but there is increasing recognition of the need for dermoscopy training in primary care and podiatric medicine. Dermoscopy is particularly helpful in pink (amelanotic) growths, which can lack the traditional clinical findings of melanoma. A literature review of acral melanoma and dermoscopy was performed in PubMed. We also describe a case of amelanotic acral melanoma in a 58-year-old with a rapidly enlarging painful mass on her heel. The lesion was initially thought to be a pyogenic granuloma and was treated with debridement (curettage). She was ultimately seen in the dermatology clinic, and the findings under dermoscopy were worrisome for amelanotic melanoma. Biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. The cancer metastasized, and the patient died less than 2 years later.