Accurate prognosis of early stage melanoma is limited in current care
Cutaneous melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with a rapidly increasing incidence rate. In 2018 there were 287,000 new cases and 60,000 deaths worldwide*. Currently melanoma patients are treated on the basis of disease prognosis, where prognosis is based on factors such as thickness of mole and family history of disease. Whether a patient receives therapeutic treatment to treat metastatic disease, depends on the outcome of the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) procedure. The SLNB shows whether cancer cells have migrated to the lymph nodes. Despite being the leading prognostic factor for patients with malignant melanoma there is still room for improvement. 28%* of patients with a negative SLNB (low risk) will still develop metastatic disease and are not given the treatment they need.
In current care, patients are often overtreated: they follow unnecessary surveillance programs and experience unrest due to perceived risk of cancer progression; or undertreated, they are classified as low risk but the cancer progresses undetected.
Additional prognostic tools are needed to improve the classification of patients as low or high risk so patients can receive the specific treatment or surveillance they need.
*Bray, F., et al., (2018). Global Cancer Statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN Estimates of Incidence and Mortality Worldwide for 36 Cancers in 185 Countries. CA Cancer J Clin.
*Ward, C.E., et al., (2018) Metastatic Melanoma in Sentinel Node–Negative Patients: The Ottawa Experience. JCMS.