Histological characteristics of metastasizing thin melanomas: A case-control study of 43 cases

Joan Guitart*, Lori Lowe, Michael Piepkorn, Victor G. Prieto, Michael S. Rabkin, Salve G. Ronan, Christopher R. Shea, Victor A. Tron, Wain White, Raymond L. Barnhill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Objective: To study clinical and histological features associated with metastasizing thin melanomas (MTMs). Design: Case-control study of clinicopathological features of patients with MTMs by a panel of 10 dermatopathologists. Setting: Members of the North American Melanoma Pathology Study Group selected the cases from the melanoma databases at 8 academic institutions. Patients: Forty-three patients with MTMs (<1 mm thick) and 42 control subjects without metastasis matched for age, sex, tumor site, and Breslow thickness. Intervention: None. Main Outcome Measures: Clinical (age, sex, site of lesion, stage at diagnosis, metastasis site, disease-free survival, and outcome) and histological (Breslow thickness, Clark level, growth phase, regression, and inflammatory response) features of patients with MTMs vs controls. Results: There was an overrepresentation of axial tumors among patients with MTMs. Extensive regression was present in 18 patients (42%) with MTM vs 2 matched control subjects (5%) (95% confidence interval, 21%-53%; P=.001). Other histological variables were not significantly different. Two patients had melanomas in situ with subsequent metastasis. Conclusions: Thin melanomas with extensive regression represent a group at higher risk for the development of metastasis. Furthermore, the risk of metastasis cannot be dismissed in cases of melanoma in situ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-608
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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