Fractal characterisation of boundary irregularity in skin pigmented lesions

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Abstract

A growing literature shows researcher's interest in fractal analysis, arising from its ability to describe and characterise quantitatively the complexity of several tumour profiles. The aim of the work was to investigate the fractal properties of skin pigmented lesion boundaries. Although melanoma is one of the most aggressive tumours, early detection and a high rate of diagnostic accuracy, followed by timely excision, can allow complete recovery in melanoma patients. A modified approach to fractal dimension estimation was performed that was able to consider, in a data fit procedure, the range in which lesions show fractal properties. Identification of this zone is the most important step towards a correct fractal analysis procedure. The method was checked against a known fractal dimension object (Koch's curve) with an error of 0.007. The fractal dimension was estimated in 110 skin pigmented lesions and showed a significantly increasing linear regression (p<0.05), from common naevi to naevi with dysplasia to melanomas. This result is important for screening, as it can inform the decision to excise precociously malignant lesions or to avoid unnecessary removal of benign ones. The limitations of the method are discussed.