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Front Med (Lausanne). 2018 Dec 13;5:344. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2018.00344. eCollection 2018.

Genomic Landscape of Spitzoid Neoplasms Impacting Patient Management.

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Department of Pathology, GROW School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, Netherlands.
Laboratory for Translational Cell and Tissue Research, Department of Pathology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Epidemiology, GROW School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
Institute for Translational Skin Cancer Research, German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Partner Site Essen, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.


Spitzoid neoplasms are a distinct group of melanocytic proliferations characterized by epithelioid and/ or spindle shaped melanocytes. Intermediate forms that share features of both benign Spitz nevi (SN) and Spitz melanoma, i.e., malignant Spitz tumor (MST) represent a diagnostically and clinically challenging group of melanocytic lesions. A multitude of descriptive diagnostic terms exist for these ambiguous lesions with atypical Spitz tumor (AST) or Spitz tumor of uncertain malignant potential (STUMP) just naming two of them. This diagnostic gray zone creates confusion and high insecurity in clinicians and in patients. Biological behavior and clinical course of this intermediate group still remains largely unknown, often leading to difficulties with uncertainties in clinical management and prognosis. Consequently, a better stratification of Spitzoid neoplasms in benign and malignant forms is required thereby keeping the diagnostic group of AST/STUMP as small as possible. Ancillary diagnostic techniques such as immunohistochemistry, comparative genomic hybridization, fluorescence in situ hybridization, next generation sequencing, micro RNA and mRNA analysis as well as mass spectrometry imaging offer new opportunities for the distinct diagnosis, thereby allowing the best clinical management of Spitzoid neoplasms. This review gives an overview on these additional diagnostic techniques and the recent developments in the field of molecular genetic alterations in Spitzoid neoplasms. We also discuss how the recent findings might facilitate the diagnosis and stratification of atypical Spitzoid neoplasms and how these findings will impact the diagnostic work up as well as patient management. We suggest a stepwise implementation of ancillary diagnostic techniques thereby integrating immunohistochemistry and molecular pathology findings in the diagnosis of challenging ambiguous Spitzoid neoplasms. Finally, we will give an outlook on pending future research objectives in the field of Spitzoid melanocytic lesions.


atypical spitz tumor; genetic; malignant spitz tumor; molecular; patient management; spitz melanoma; spitz nevi; spitzoid neoplasms

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