Background: Cutaneous melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin carcinoma in humans, frequently with a rapid progression of disease. To detect early developing metastasis, laboratory tests to determine levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and alkaline phosphatase (AP) form part of the regular follow-up, but often cannot discover recurrent disease at a sufficiently early stage.
Methods: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of protein S-100beta (S-100beta), melanoma-inhibitory activity (MIA), LDH, AP, and tyrosinase/MART-1 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), the authors included 296 consecutive AJCC Stage II or III clinically disease-free melanoma patients. Follow-up examinations were performed every 3 months and blood samples were drawn to determine the levels of these tumor markers.
Results: Metastasis occurred in 41 of the 296 patients during a median follow-up period of 19 months (range, 1-33 months). The sensitivity to detect new metastases was 29% for protein S-100beta, 22% for MIA, 2% for LDH, 17% for AP, and 24% for RT-PCR. The diagnostic accuracy was best for MIA (86%) and S-100beta (84%), whereas AP (79%), LDH (77%), and RT-PCR (72%) demonstrated lower values. Elevated values of S-100beta and MIA during follow-up examinations were associated with decreased survival rates in the further course of the disease, but pathologic findings of the other tumor markers showed no prognostic impact.
Conclusions: To the authors' knowledge, the current study is the first comparison of the diagnostic accuracy of currently available tumor markers in the follow-up of high-risk melanoma patients. Protein S-100beta and MIA demonstrated a higher sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy in the diagnosis of newly occurring metastasis compared with to the tumor markers AP, LDH, and RT-PCR diagnostics. Therefore, the tumor markers S-100beta and MIA may be useful in the follow-up of disease-free Stage II and III melanoma patients.
Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.DOI 10.1002/cncr.11250