Prospective multi-institutional study of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for molecular staging of melanoma

Academic Article


  • Purpose: To evaluate the prognostic significance of molecular staging using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in detecting occult melanoma cells in sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) and circulating bloodstream. Patients and Methods: In this multicenter study, eligibility criteria included patient age 18 to 71 years, invasive melanoma ≥ 1.0 mm Breslow thickness, and no clinical evidence of metastasis. SLN biopsy and wide excision of the primary tumor were performed. SLNs were examined by serial-section histopathology and S-100 immunohistochemistry. A portion of each SLN was frozen for RT-PCR. In addition, RT-PCR was performed on peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). RT-PCR analysis was performed using four markers: tyrosinase, MART1, MAGE3, and GP-100. Disease-free survival (DFS), distant-DFS (DDFS), and overall survival (OS) were analyzed. Results: A total of 1,446 patients with histologically negative SLNs underwent RT-PCR analysis. At a median follow-up of 30 months, there was no difference in DFS, DDFS, or OS between the RT-PCR-positive (n = 620) and RT-PCR-negative (n = 826) patients. Analysis of PBMC from 820 patients revealed significant differences in DFS and DDFS, but not OS, for patients with detection of more than one RT-PCR marker in peripheral blood. Conclusion: In this large, prospective, multi-institutional study, RT-PCR analysis on SLNs and PBMCs provides no additional prognostic information beyond standard histopathologic analysis of SLNs. Detection of more than one marker in PBMC is associated with a worse prognosis. RT-PCR remains investigational and should not be used to direct adjuvant therapy at this time. © 2006 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Scoggins CR; Ross MI; Reintgen DS; Noyes RD; Goydos JS; Beitsch PD; Urist MM; Ariyan S; Davidson BS; Sussman JJ
  • Start Page

  • 2849
  • End Page

  • 2857
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 18