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Br J Dermatol. 2008 Sep;159(3):597-605. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08710.x. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Molecular and biochemical testing in stage III melanoma: multimarker reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay of lymph fluid after lymph node dissection and preoperative serum lactate dehydrogenase level.

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Department of Soft Tissue/Bone Sarcoma and Melanoma, M. Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology, Roentgena Str. 5, 02-781 Warsaw, Poland.



There is a need for biomarkers to identify patients at risk for disease progression after resection of melanoma regional lymph node metastasis.


This study assessed the prognostic value of multimarker reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay in lymphatic drainage (LY) after lymph node dissection (LND) and of preoperative serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels in American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage III melanoma patients.


We collected 24-h LY from 255 stage III melanoma patients after radical LND [114, completion LND after positive sentinel node biopsy (CLND); 141, therapeutic LND for clinically/cytologically detected regional nodal metastases (TLND)]. For detection of melanoma cells, RT-PCR assays with primers specific for tyrosinase, MART1 (MelanA) and uMAGE mRNA were conducted. The LY sample was deemed positive if at least one marker was detected. In 244 patients, the preoperative serum LDH level was available. Median follow-up time was 25 months (range 5-60).


The LY multimarker RT-PCR assay results were positive in 82 of 255 patients (32%). A significantly higher rate of melanoma recurrence was observed in patients with positive LY multimarker RT-PCR results (P = 0.01). Significant relationships were observed between positive LY multimarker RT-PCR results and shorter 3-year overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS), both in univariate and multivariate analyses (P = 0.007). Preoperative serum LDH level was increased in 79 of 244 patients (32%) [40.5% in TLND group and 23.0% in CLND group (P = 0.003)]. There were significant differences in OS between patients with normal and high preoperative LDH levels (P = 0.007), and these differences were seen mainly in patients in the TLND group.


The multimarker RT-PCR assay detected melanoma cells in approximately 32% of LY after LND, which correlated significantly with early melanoma recurrence and shorter survival. Increased pre-LND serum LDH level had an additional negative impact on OS of melanoma patients with palpable nodal metastases after TLND.

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