Photo Rounds

Brown spot on ear

A family physician (FP) noted this brown spot on the ear of a 72-year-old patient during a physical exam. When the FP asked if the patient was aware of it, the patient responded that he’d noticed it 2 months earlier, but didn’t make much of it. He admitted to a previous case of basal cell carcinoma on his shoulder 2 years prior. He denied any history of melanoma.

What’s your diagnosis?


Brown spot on ear

The FP explained to the patient that this could be a skin cancer—specifically, a melanoma.

The FP performed a broad shave biopsy, being careful not to cut into the cartilage. (See the Watch & Learn video on “Shave biopsy.”) The FP did his best to include most of the pigmented area involved, but the convex surface made it difficult to biopsy the whole lesion. He was especially careful to include the darker area because it looked most atypical. The diagnosis came back as lentigo maligna.

The patient was referred for Mohs surgery for complete excision and repair. (Mohs surgery is recommended to spare tissue and maximize cure.) After complete excision, the patient learned that the melanoma was not invasive, but in situ. This suggested a very good prognosis.

Photos and text for Photo Rounds Friday courtesy of Richard P. Usatine, MD. This case was adapted from: Mayeaux, EJ, Usatine, R. Lentigo maligna. In: Usatine R, Smith M, Mayeaux EJ, et al. Color Atlas of Family Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2013:981-984.

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