Introduction Role of the RT-PCR in prognostic prediction Melanoma micrometastases in peripheral blood Melanoma micrometastases in lymph nodes Molecular complexity of melanomagenesis Molecular alterations and disease phenotype Conclusions Prediction of metastatic potential remains one of the main goals to be pursued in order to better assess the risk subgroups of patients with melanoma. Detection of occult melanoma cells in peripheral blood (circulating metastatic cells [CMC]) or in sentinel lymph nodes (sentinel node metastatic cells [SNMC]), could significantly contribute to better predict survival in melanoma patients. An overview of the numerous published studies indicate the existence of several drawbacks about either the reliability of the approaches for identification of occult melanoma cells or the clinical value of CMC and SNMC as prognostic factors among melanoma patients. In this sense, characterization of the molecular mechanisms involved in development and progression of melanoma (referred to as melanomagenesis) could contribute to better classify the different subsets of melanoma patients. Increasing evidence suggest that melanoma develops as a result of accumulated abnormalities in genetic pathways within the melanocytic lineage. The different molecular mechanisms may have separate roles or cooperate during all evolutionary phases of melanocytic tumourigenesis, generating different subsets of melanoma patients with distinct aggressiveness, clinical behaviour, and response to therapy. All these features associated with either the dissemination of occult metastatic cells or the melanomagenesis might be useful to adequately manage the melanoma patients with different prognosis as well as to better address the different melanoma subsets toward more appropriate therapeutic approaches. © 2007 Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine/Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Issues affecting molecular staging in the management of patients with melanoma: Molecular Dermopathology / Palmieri, G.; Casula, M.; Sini, M. C.; Ascierto, P. A.; Cossu, A.. - In: JOURNAL OF CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR MEDICINE. - ISSN 1582-1838. - 11:5(2007), pp. 1052-1068. [10.1111/j.1582-4934.2007.00091.x]