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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 74, n° 6
pages 1093-1106 (juin 2016)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.038
accepted : 20 December 2015
Original Articles

Standardization of terminology in dermoscopy/dermatoscopy: Results of the third consensus conference of the International Society of Dermoscopy

Harald Kittler, MD a, , Ashfaq A. Marghoob, MD b, Giuseppe Argenziano, MD c, Cristina Carrera, MD d, Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD e, Rainer Hofmann-Wellenhof, MD f, Josep Malvehy, MD d, Scott Menzies, MBBS g, Susana Puig, MD d, Harold Rabinovitz, MD h, Wilhelm Stolz, MD i, Toshiaki Saida, MD j, H. Peter Soyer, MD k, Eliot Siegel, MD l, William V. Stoecker, MD m, Alon Scope, MD b, n, Masaru Tanaka, MD o, Luc Thomas, MD p, Philipp Tschandl, MD a, Iris Zalaudek, MD f, Allan Halpern, MD b
a Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria 
b Dermatology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 
c Dermatology and Skin Cancer Unit, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Istituto di Ricerca e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS), Reggio Emilia, Italy 
d Melanoma Unit, Department of Dermatology, Hospital Clinic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Universitat de Barcelona, and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBER ER), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Barcelona, Spain 
e University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona 
f Department of Dermatology and Venerology, Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Unit, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria 
g Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Center, Sydney Cancer Center, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Australia 
h Skin and Cancer Associates, Plantation, Florida 
i Department of Dermatology, Klinikum München, Munich, Germany 
j Department of Dermatology, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan 
k Dermatology Research Center, University of Queensland, School of Medicine, Translational Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia 
l University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland 
m Department of Dermatology, University of Missouri Health Sciences Center, Columbia, Missouri 
n Department of Dermatology, Sheba Medical Center and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel 
o Department of Dermatology, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan 
p Service de Dermatologie, Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Lyon, Lyon, France 

Reprint requests: Harald Kittler, MD, Department of Dermatology, Division of General Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.Department of DermatologyDivision of General DermatologyMedical University of ViennaWähringer Gürtel 18-20Vienna1090Austria

Evolving dermoscopic terminology motivated us to initiate a new consensus.


We sought to establish a dictionary of standardized terms.


We reviewed the medical literature, conducted a survey, and convened a discussion among experts.


Two competitive terminologies exist, a more metaphoric terminology that includes numerous terms and a descriptive terminology based on 5 basic terms. In a survey among members of the International Society of Dermoscopy (IDS) 23.5% (n = 201) participants preferentially use descriptive terminology, 20.1% (n = 172) use metaphoric terminology, and 484 (56.5%) use both. More participants who had been initially trained by metaphoric terminology prefer using descriptive terminology than vice versa (9.7% vs 2.6%, P  < .001). Most new terms that were published since the last consensus conference in 2003 were unknown to the majority of the participants. There was uniform consensus that both terminologies are suitable, that metaphoric terms need definitions, that synonyms should be avoided, and that the creation of new metaphoric terms should be discouraged. The expert panel proposed a dictionary of standardized terms taking account of metaphoric and descriptive terms.


A consensus seeks a workable compromise but does not guarantee its implementation.


The new consensus provides a revised framework of standardized terms to enhance the consistent use of dermoscopic terminology.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Key words : consensus, dermatoscopy, melanoma, nevi, noninvasive diagnosis, nonmelanoma skin cancer, pigmented skin lesions, terminology

 Funding sources: None.
 Conflicts of interest: None declared.

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