Importance Controversy exists regarding strategies for diagnosis and management of Spitz nevi, a type of melanocytic neoplasm that most often develops in children.
Objective To determine the beliefs, behaviors, and experiences of pediatric dermatologists with regard to Spitz nevi.
Design Anonymous web-based survey.
Setting Private and academic dermatology practices.
Participants Respondents included 175 pediatric dermatologists from the United States and around the world, representing a 51.1% response rate (175 of 342). Analyses were limited to the 144 respondents whose practices included at least 50% children (younger than 18 years).
Main Outcome Measures Assessment of the following with regard to Spitz nevi: frequency of diagnosis, general beliefs, techniques used for evaluation (eg, dermoscopy and biopsy), management strategies, and observed outcomes.
Results Collectively, respondents had seen approximately 20 000 Spitz nevi; 67.6% (96 of 142) had diagnosed at least 6 Spitz nevi yearly, whereas 90.1% (128 of 142) had diagnosed no more than 2 prepubertal melanomas in the past 5 years. Ninety-six percent of respondents (95.8%; 136 of 142) categorized typical Spitz nevi as benign. Eighty percent of respondents (79.6%; 113 of 142) used dermatoscopy, and 96.5% (137 of 142) avoided partial biopsies of Spitz nevi. In children with a suspected Spitz nevus, clinical follow-up was chosen by 49.3% (69 of 140) of respondents for a small, stable nonpigmented lesion and by 29.7% (41 of 138) for a pigmented lesion with a typical starburst pattern seen via dermatoscopy. Predictors of clinical follow-up of the latter lesion included believing that Spitz nevi are not melanoma precursors (P = .04). Forty-seven percent (62 of 132) of respondents had observed involution of Spitz nevi. No deaths had resulted from the approximately 10 000 Spitz nevi or atypical spitzoid neoplasms seen by the 91 respondents with academic or hospital-based practices.
Conclusions and Relevance The results of our survey support conservative management of Spitz nevi in children, with clinical follow-up representing an option for typical lesions. This represents an important difference from strategies used for management of these lesions in adults.