Prognostic and predictive biomarkers in melanoma

Pathology. 2024 Mar;56(2):259-273. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2023.11.004. Epub 2023 Dec 20.


Biomarkers help to inform the clinical management of patients with melanoma. For patients with clinically localised primary melanoma, biomarkers can help to predict post-surgical outcome (including via the use of risk prediction tools), better select patients for sentinel lymph node biopsy, and tailor catch-all follow-up protocols to the individual. Systemic drug treatments, including immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapies and BRAF-targeted therapies, have radically improved the prognosis of metastatic (stage III and IV) cutaneous melanoma patients, and also shown benefit in the earlier setting of stage IIB/C primary melanoma. Unfortunately, a response is far from guaranteed. Here, we review clinically relevant, established, and emerging, prognostic, and predictive pathological biomarkers that refine clinical decision-making in primary and metastatic melanoma patients. Gene expression profile assays and nomograms are emerging tools for prognostication and sentinel lymph node risk prediction in primary melanoma patients. Biomarkers incorporated into clinical practice guidelines include BRAF V600 mutations for the use of targeted therapies in metastatic cutaneous melanoma, and the HLA-A∗02:01 allele for the use of a bispecific fusion protein in metastatic uveal melanoma. Several predictive biomarkers have been proposed for ICI therapies but have not been incorporated into Australian clinical practice guidelines. Further research, validation, and assessment of clinical utility is required before more prognostic and predictive biomarkers are fluidly integrated into routine care.

Keywords: Melanoma; biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / diagnosis
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Melanoma* / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Biomarkers, Tumor