Biomarkers in melanoma: staging, prognosis and detection of early metastases

Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2003 May;3(3):303-30. doi: 10.1586/14737159.3.3.303.


Currently, melanoma remains a surgical disease since early detection and excision of thin melanomas offers the best chance of a cure. Despite intensive clinical investigation, no effective systemic therapies exist for metastatic melanoma. Sentinel lymph node biopsy has greatly aided the staging and prognostic evaluation of primary cutaneous melanoma, however, approximately a third of patients diagnosed with metastatic melanomas present without prior regional lymph node involvement. Additional prognostic biomarkers exist which help determine the risk of advanced melanoma but the accuracy for each current marker is less than 100%. A greater understanding of the biology of melanomas and the development of new methods to identify patients with early (subclinical) metastatic disease may allow for selective and more effective therapy for patients at-risk for advanced disease. In this paper, current and novel potentially more accurate biomarkers for the staging and prognostic evaluation of melanoma patients, and for the detection of subclinical metastases are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor