Evaluating biomarkers in melanoma

Front Oncol. 2015 Jan 23;4:383. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2014.00383. eCollection 2014.


The incidence of cutaneous melanoma has more than doubled over the last decades making it one of the fastest rising cancers worldwide. Improved awareness and early detection of malignant moles now permit earlier diagnosis aiming to decrease the likelihood of recurrence. However, it is difficult to identify those patients initially diagnosed with localized melanoma who subsequently develop metastatic disease. For this group, prognosis remains poor and clinical outcomes are variable and challenging to predict. Considerable efforts have focused on the search for novel prognostic tools, with numerous markers evaluated in the circulation and in tumor lesions. The most reliable predictors of patient outcome are the clinical and histological features of the primary tumor such as Breslow thickness, ulceration status, and mitotic rate. Elevated serum levels of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase, likely to indicate active metastatic disease, are also routinely used to monitor patients. The emergence of novel immune and checkpoint antibody treatments for melanoma and increasing appreciation of key roles of the immune system in promoting or halting cancer progression have focused attention to immunological biomarkers. Validation of the most promising of these may have clinical applications in assisting prognosis, assessing endpoints in therapy, and monitoring responses during treatment.

Keywords: antibodies; biomarkers; cancer; humoral immunity; immune response; inflammation; melanoma; prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review