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Br J Nurs. 2008 Mar 13-26;17(5):300-5.

Current clinical overview of cutaneous melanoma.

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King's College, Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St Thomas's Hospital, London.


This article reviews current evidence on epidemiology, diagnosis and management of cutaneous melanoma. Incidence of cutaneous melanoma is rising in all Caucasian populations across the world; thus, melanoma represents a significant public health burden. Although, incidence of melanoma is in continuous increase, a decrease of mortality and improved survival has been observed in most western European populations. Clinical characteristics of four major types of melanoma (superficial spreading, nodular, lentigo maligna melanoma and acral lentiginous melanoma) have been described. Surgical removal of melanoma remains the standard care in all primary melanomas. Current evidence suggests use of 1 to 2 cm excision margins. Wider margins may be necessary in patients with thicker melanomas with higher risk for local recurrence. In the treatment of regional lymph nodes elective lymphadenectomy has been surpassed by the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). However, although prognostic value of SLNB has been confirmed, its therapeutical benefit still needs to be evaluated. Currently there is no standard adjuvant therapy for melanoma although interferon-alpha has been the most widely used treatment in the adjuvant setting. The role of metastasectomy (removal of distant metastases) is still controversial. Chemotherapeutic agents have a limited activity in patients with metastatic melanoma with response rates up to 25%. Although different vaccines have been tested in melanoma patients their role still remain to be established in phase III trials. Progresses in molecular biology and genetics of melanoma may lead to the development of novel melanoma therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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