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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):699-702.

Diagnosing melanoma patients entering American Joint Committee on Cancer stage IV, C-reactive protein in serum is superior to lactate dehydrogenase.

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Department of Dermatology, Heidelberg University Clinics, Vossstrasse 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany.


Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in serum has recently been introduced into the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system for cutaneous melanoma because of its prognostic value. We hypothesised LDH to be of value in discriminating melanoma patients entering AJCC stage IV from patients staying in AJCC stages I, II or III. Lactate dehydrogenase was compared to the acute phase protein C-reactive protein (CRP), which we observed to reflect the course of melanoma metastasis in a previous report. In this prospective study, we measured LDH and CRP in the serum of 91 consecutive melanoma patients progressing into AJCC stage IV in comparison to 125 patients staying in AJCC stages I, II or III. Comparing distributions of the parameters by median values and quartiles by Mann-Whitney test, LDH was not significantly elevated in patients entering AJCC stage IV melanoma (P=0.785), whereas CRP was (P<0.001). Analysing the sensitivity and the specificity jointly by the areas under the receiver operating characteristics curves (ROC-AUC), LDH did not discriminate between the defined groups of patients (AUC=0.491; 95% confidence interval, 0.410, 0.581), whereas CRP did (AUC=0.933; 95% confidence interval, 0.900, 0.966; P<0.001). Upon logistic regression analysis to calculate the ROC-AUC values upon the predictive probabilities, LDH provided no additional information to CRP. Choosing a cutoff point of 3.0 mg l(-1), CRP yielded a sensitivity of 0.769 together with a specificity of 0.904 in diagnosing AJCC stage IV entry. Altogether, for first diagnosing AJCC stage IV melanoma, CRP is the superior serum marker when compared to the conventional LDH.

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