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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-122

Primary thin nodular melanoma: An early tumorigenic vertical growth phase melanoma

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University Hospital of Modena, Modena (MO), Italy

Date of Submission06-May-2019
Date of Decision26-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance12-Nov-2019
Date of Web Publication24-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Luca Roncati
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Modena, Policlinico, I-41124 Modena (MO)
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ds.ds_45_19

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How to cite this article:
Roncati L, Piscioli F. Primary thin nodular melanoma: An early tumorigenic vertical growth phase melanoma. Dermatol Sin 2020;38:121-2

How to cite this URL:
Roncati L, Piscioli F. Primary thin nodular melanoma: An early tumorigenic vertical growth phase melanoma. Dermatol Sin [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 21];38:121-2. Available from: https://www.dermsinica.org/text.asp?2020/38/2/121/283211

Dear Editor,

Nodular melanoma (NM) is the most fatal subtype of melanoma because it tends to grow more rapidly in-depth than on the skin surface.[1] Grossly, it is most often darkly pigmented; however, some NMs can be light brown, multicolored, or even colorless; an ulcerated and/or bleeding lesion is commonly encountered.[2] The microscopic hallmarks are dome-shaped dermal nodule with pushing borders, epidermal thinning, striking cytological atypia, high mitotic and proliferative index, lymphovascular invasion or perineural infiltration, and sometimes, tumor necrosis. According to the previous literature, NM can be considered “thin” when <1.3 mm in thickness.[3] Unlike superficial spreading melanoma (SSM), lentigo maligna melanoma, and acral lentiginous melanoma, NM is devoid of a radial growth phase (RGP) because it directly arises from transformed dermal melanocytes; therefore, it is characterized by the presence of a vertical growth phase (VGP) from the onset.[4] In a recent study, 20,132 melanomas (NM: 5062; SSM: 15,070), diagnosed in 17 centers in Europe, USA, and Australia between 2006 and 2015, have been reexamined by multivariate logistic regression analysis with emphasis in pT1 (≤1.0 mm) melanomas. Compared to pT1 SSM, pT1 NM has been found to be associated with a constellation of aggressive characteristics, such as higher mitotic rate and regional metastasis, that confer a worse prognosis.[5] Following a histogenetic view, RGP is considered a nontumorigenic growth phase limited to the epidermis (in situ) or to the papillary dermis (microinvasive), lacking of metastatic competence; on the contrary, VGP represents a tumorigenic growth phase, burdened by nodular confluence, deeper extension into the dermis or beyond, mitotic activity, and metastatic potential.[6],[7] VGP always follows RGP with the only exception of NM, as above referred. Today, the Breslow depth remains the most important prognostic factor for clinically localized primary melanomas, allowing to distinguish them in ultrathin (≤0.5 mm), thin (≤1 mm), thick (>1 mm), or ultrathick (>6 mm).[8] A histogenetic approach to the Breslow depth permits to explain the debated issue why thin NM behaves aggressively, because it possesses an early tumorigenic VGP inside it.[9] We believe that a renewed histogenetic approach to all melanoma subtypes of the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, based on the growth phase distinction, deserves a wide scientific dissemination, for a better stratification and clinical management of the individual cases. In comparison with the 7th Edition, the 8th Edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system no longer considers mitotic count in a or b T1 categorization, but it adopts a substratification based on Breslow's depth and ulceration (pT1a <0.8 mm without ulceration; pT1b <0.8 mm with ulceration or 0.8–1.0 mm with or without ulceration).[10] Although the probability to encounter VGP increases with the depth of thin melanoma and this justifies the choice of a cutoff equal to 0.8 mm, the new AJCC staging system runs the risk to underestimate the metastatic competence of thin melanoma < 0.8 mm, in which a tumorigenic VGP may be found anyway.[10] In practice, the histogenetic approach would allow to identify those thin melanomas to be submitted to sentinel lymph node biopsy, because burdened by a tumorigenic VGP inside them, despite their thickness. The term “stratified medicine” has just been introduced to describe the concept of a modern medicine ad personam, focused on decisions, practices, and interventions tailored to the single patient, and based on the calculation of individual risk for disease progression. To meet these demands, thin NM should be considered a high-risk early tumorigenic VGP melanoma to be included in future prognostic stratifications.

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There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Saaiq M, Ashraf B, Siddiqui S. Nodular melanoma. Iran J Med Sci 2016;41:164-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
Greenwald HS, Friedman EB, Osman I. Superficial spreading and nodular melanoma are distinct biological entities: A challenge to the linear progression model. Melanoma Res 2012;22:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kalkhoran S, Milne O, Zalaudek I, Puig S, Malvehy J, Kelly JW, et al. Historical, clinical, and dermoscopic characteristics of thin nodular melanoma. Arch Dermatol 2010;146:311-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Roncati L, Piscioli F, Pusiol T. Current controversies on sentinel node biopsy in thin and thick cutaneous melanoma. Eur J Surg Oncol 2017;43:506-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Dessinioti C, Dimou N, Geller AC, Stergiopoulou A, Lo S, Keim U, et al. Distinct clinicopathological and prognostic features of thin nodular primary melanomas: An international study from 17 centers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2019. pii: djz034.  Back to cited text no. 5
Piscioli F, Pusiol T, Roncati L. Higher predictive value of sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with histological subcategorization of thin melanoma. Int J Dermatol 2017;56:e93-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
Roncati L, Piscioli F, Pusiol T. Surgical outcomes reflect the histological types of cutaneous malignant melanoma. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2017;31:279-80.  Back to cited text no. 7
Meguerditchian AN, Asubonteng K, Young C, Lema B, Wilding G, Kane JM 3rd. Thick primary melanoma has a heterogeneous tumor biology: An institutional series. World J Surg Oncol 2011;9:40.  Back to cited text no. 8
Piscioli F, Pusiol T, Roncati L. Thin melanoma subtyping fits well with the American Joint committee on cancer staging system. Melanoma Res 2016;26:636.  Back to cited text no. 9
Roncati L, Piscioli F. AJCC 8th Edition (2017) versus AJCC 7th Edition (2010) in thin melanoma staging. Neoplasma 2018;65:651-5.  Back to cited text no. 10


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