Mod Pathol 2020 Jan 22;33(Suppl 1):15-24. Epub 2019 Nov 22.
University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.
The pathological diagnosis of melanoma can be challenging. The provision of an appropriate biopsy and pertinent history can assist in establishing an accurate diagnosis and reliable estimate of prognosis. In their reports, pathologists should document both the criteria on which the diagnosis was based as well as important prognostic parameters. For melanoma, such prognostic parameters include tumor thickness, ulceration, mitotic rate, lymphovascular invasion, neurotropism, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Disease staging is important for risk stratifying melanoma patients into prognostic groups and patient management recommendations are often stage based. The 8th edition American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Melanoma Staging System was implemented in 2018 and several important changes were made. Tumor thickness and ulceration remain the key T category criteria. T1b melanomas were redefined as either ulcerated melanomas <1.0 mm thick or nonulcerated melanomas 0.8-1.0 mm thick. Although mitotic rate was removed as a T category criterion in the 8th edition, it remains a very important prognostic factor and should continue to be documented in primary melanoma pathology reports. It was also recommended in the 8th edition that tumor thickness be recorded to the nearest 0.1 mm (rather than the nearest 0.01 mm). In the future, incorporation of additional prognostic parameters beyond those utilized in the current version of the staging system into (web based) prognostic models/clinical tools will likely facilitate more personalized prognostic estimates. Evaluation of molecular markers of prognosis is an active area of current research; however, additional data are needed before it would be appropriate to recommend use of such tests in routine clinical practice.