Update of diagnostic and prognostic markers in cutaneous malignant melanoma

Clin Lab Med. 2000 Dec;20(4):817-38.


The biomolecules described in this article generally have been studied as possible diagnostic or clinically prognostic markers in the context of melanoma disease progression as measured by the gold standards of tumor thickness and development of metastasis. Most of the markers showed variations in expression phenotype only during the deeply invasive or metastatic stage of tumor progression and were thus predictive of clinical outcome only for these subgroups of patients. Some of the markers may have utility in identifying patients with deeply invasive primary tumors who are likely to develop metastasis and thus should receive earlier, more aggressive treatments. In addition, some of the markers may identify patients likely to respond better to a new type of therapy (e.g., anti-angiogenic therapy in a patient whose tumor is overexpressing VEGF or immunotherapy for a patient whose tumor is expressing high levels of MART-1). In the future, it will probably be possible to employ new techniques, such as laser-guided microdissection of tissues, to isolate individual melanocytes in order to identify the earliest stage-specific defects that contribute to an aggressive biological behavior. Identifying the subset of patients with superficially invasive melanomas who will develop metastatic disease will continue to provide a challenge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / chemistry
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor