Molecular Pathology of Skin Melanoma: Epidemiology, Differential Diagnostics, Prognosis and Therapy Prediction

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 May 11;23(10):5384. doi: 10.3390/ijms23105384.


Similar to other malignancies, TCGA network efforts identified the detailed genomic picture of skin melanoma, laying down the basis of molecular classification. On the other hand, genome-wide association studies discovered the genetic background of the hereditary melanomas and the susceptibility genes. These genetic studies helped to fine-tune the differential diagnostics of malignant melanocytic lesions, using either FISH tests or the myPath gene expression signature. Although the original genomic studies on skin melanoma were mostly based on primary tumors, data started to accumulate on the genetic diversity of the progressing disease. The prognostication of skin melanoma is still based on staging but can be completed with gene expression analysis (DecisionDx). Meanwhile, this genetic knowledge base of skin melanoma did not turn to the expected wide array of target therapies, except the BRAF inhibitors. The major breakthrough of melanoma therapy was the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors, which showed outstanding efficacy in skin melanoma, probably due to their high immunogenicity. Unfortunately, beyond BRAF, KIT mutations and tumor mutation burden, no clinically validated predictive markers exist in melanoma, although several promising biomarkers have been described, such as the expression of immune-related genes or mutations in the IFN-signaling pathway. After the initial success of either target or immunotherapies, sooner or later, relapses occur in the majority of patients, due to various induced genetic alterations, the diagnosis of which could be developed to novel predictive genetic markers.

Keywords: genomics; molecular pathology; prognostic and predictive markers; skin melanoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / diagnosis
  • Melanoma* / epidemiology
  • Melanoma* / genetics
  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant
  • Pathology, Molecular
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf