Dermatoscopy and Skin Cancer: A Handbook for Hunters of Skin Cancer and Melanoma

Karl T. Clebak, MD

Fam Med. 2020;52(2):148-149.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2020.191543

Book Title: Dermatoscopy and Skin Cancer: A Handbook for Hunters of Skin Cancer and Melanoma

Book Author: Cliff Rosendahl and Aksana Marozava

Publication Information: Bloxham, United Kingdom, Scion Publishing, 2019, 384 pp, $50.00, paperback

“Hey doc, what do you think of this skin spot?” is commonly heard within a family physician’s exam room. Skin cancers are the most common form of all types of cancer and currently melanoma is the fifth most frequent new cancer diagnosis in the United States.1-3 Family physicians are frequently a patient’s initial point of contact when a new or evolving skin lesion is noticed, and serve a critical role in the early detection of skin cancers. Dermatoscopy (also known as dermoscopy, epiluminescence microscopy, incident light microscopy and skin surface microscopy) utilizes the handheld instrument, the dermatoscope or dermoscope, to noninvasively visualize subsurface skin structures with a light source and magnification. The use of dermatoscopy has been shown to increase sensitivity and specificity for melanoma detection in conjunction with visual inspection.4

Cliff Rosendahl, a general practitioner with over 40 years of experience and internationally recognized author in the field of skin cancer, melanoma, and dermatoscopy, along with dermatologist Aksana Marozava, have compiled over 450 high-quality images in their text, Dermatoscopy and Skin Cancer: A Handbook for Hunters of Skin Cancer and Melanoma. Dermatoscopy and Skin Cancer is laid out with clear, basic language that students of the skin at any level will benefit from. This handbook starts with a review of basic dermatoscopic techniques and concepts, followed by a basic science review of the anatomy, embryology, histology, and pathophysiology of the skin as an organ system. The entire text is extensively filled with artistic renderings, histologic slides, and photographs, from cover to cover. The book does not waste any time and jumps to reviewing photographs, histologic preparations, and dermatoscopic images of skin cancers by the third chapter. This format (photographic image of the skin lesion, histologic preparation, and dermatoscopic image presented together) is consistent throughout the entire text and allows readers to start to piece together pattern recognition of their own. From the fourth chapter on, the reader is presented with dermatoscopic terms, that are clearly illustrated in both artistic drawings and dermatographic images. This helps the reader start to build and develop their dermatoscopic vocabulary with chapters dedicated to pattern analysis and sections dedicated to dermatoscopic clues.

Drs Rosendahl and Marozava effectively describe the “Chaos and Clues” decision algorithm for the identification of pigmented skin lesions based on the recognition of symmetry (the absence of chaos) and pattern recognition with clues such as structures, thick lines, dots, clods, pseudopods, and vessels. Again, Drs Rosendahl and Marozava present these concepts in a visual manner with multiple example photographs of the skin lesion accompanied by corresponding dermatoscopic images. Similarly, the authors’ “Prediction Without Pigment” decision algorithm assists the physician in evaluating nonpigmented skin lesions. The handbook wraps up by reviewing commonly encountered benign, premalignant, and malignant skin lesions again with both nonmagnified and dermatoscopic images.

One element of the book that could be improved in a future edition is to move the skin exam chapter to the front, as it feels slightly out of place in the fifth chapter since the reader has already reviewed nonmagnified, dermatoscopic, and histologic images of skin lesions by this point in the text. The title would have also benefitted from the inclusion of any available supporting data regarding the proposed decision algorithms.

All in all, Dermatoscopy and Skin Cancer:  A Handbook for Hunters of Skin Cancer and Melanomais a great addition for any student, resident, or family physician looking to extend their dermatoscopic library. Students of dermatology at all levels will benefit from the numerous, vivid images and clear language throughout this book. Rosendahl and Marozava’s work provides fundamentals for those without dermatoscopic experience and serves as a useful reference for the practiced dermatoscopist alike.This text is a valuable resource in the reader’s own hunt for skin cancer utilizing this new tool in dermatologic care, the dermatoscope.


  1. National Cancer Center. Melanoma of the Skin - Cancer Stat Facts. SEER. Accessed August 22, 2019.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Skin Cancer Statistics. Published July 29, 2019. Accessed August 22, 2019.
  3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  4. Dinnes J, Deeks JJ, Chuchu N, et al; Cochrane Skin Cancer Diagnostic Test Accuracy Group. Dermoscopy, with and without visual inspection, for diagnosing melanoma in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;12(12):CD011902.

Lead Author

Karl T. Clebak, MD

Affiliations: Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA

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