Level of Evidence Review for a Gene Expression Profile Test for Cutaneous Melanoma

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2019 Dec;20(6):763-770. doi: 10.1007/s40257-019-00464-4.


Background: The advent of molecular medicine may allow for individualized cancer prognostication, which should enable better clinical management and, hopefully, improve patient outcomes. A 31-gene expression profile (31-GEP) test is currently available for patients diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma; this test helps inform patients' individual treatment plans, especially when combined with traditional biomarkers.

Objective: The objective of this study was to review the current literature and establish the level of evidence for a cutaneous melanoma 31-GEP test.

Methods: A review of seven development and validation studies for the 31-GEP test was conducted. The respective strengths and weaknesses of each study were applied to the level of evidence criteria from major organizations that publish guidelines for melanoma management: American Joint Committee on Cancer, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and American Academy of Dermatology.

Results: Evaluating each study led to classifying the 31-GEP test as level I/II, I-IIIB, and IIA according to American Joint Committee on Cancer, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and American Academy of Dermatology criteria, respectively. This stands in contrast to the official unrated status conferred by the American Joint Committee on Cancer and National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the II/IIIC rating designated by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Conclusions: Differences between the authors' findings and official published ratings may be attributed to chronological issues, as many of the studies were not yet published when the aforementioned organizations conducted their reviews. There was also difficulty in applying the National Comprehensive Cancer Network criteria to this prognostic test, as their guidelines were intended for evaluation of predictive markers. Nevertheless, based upon the most current data available, integration of the 31-GEP test into clinical practice may be warranted in certain clinical situations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods*
  • Dermatology / methods
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / mortality*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Selection
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor