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The atypical mole syndrome (AMS) phenotype is the strongest known risk factor for cutaneous melanoma but recognition of the phenotype has been claimed to be problematic and to require specialist assessment. This study determined the ability of previously unskilled doctors and nurses in five countries to recognize the phenotype after brief training. The system used was the AMS scoring system. This incorporates melanocytic naevus counts, clinical atypia of naevi and distribution of naevi. The agreement in scoring between the dermatologist and trained personnel was determined in 986 patients; overall agreement in diagnosis was 94.5% (kappa 0.70, P < 0.0001). The kappa scores in different countries ranged from 0.65 to 0.77 for individual naevus characteristics, indicative of good agreement. Accurate diagnosis of the atypical mole syndrome phenotype is possible by non- specialists. This has implications for collaborative studies of naevi, for screening and for both primary and secondary prevention of melanoma.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Dermatology

Publication Date





331 - 337