Pitfalls in Cutaneous Melanoma Diagnosis and the Need for New Reliable Markers

Giang T. Lam, Sarita Prabhakaran, Alexandra Sorvina, Carmela Martini, Ben S.Y. Ung, Litsa Karageorgos, Shane M. Hickey, Joanna Lazniewska, Ian R.D. Johnson, Desmond B. Williams, Sonja Klebe, Victoria Malone, John J. O’Leary, Louise Jackett, Doug A. Brooks, Jessica M. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Cutaneous melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer, with the development of advanced stage disease resulting in a high rate of patient mortality. Accurate diagnosis of melanoma at an early stage is essential to improve patient outcomes, as this enables treatment before the cancer has metastasised. Histopathologic analysis is the current gold standard for melanoma diagnosis, but this can be subjective due to discordance in interpreting the morphological heterogeneity in melanoma and other skin lesions. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is sometimes employed as an adjunct to conventional histology, but it remains occasionally difficult to distinguish some benign melanocytic lesions and melanoma. Importantly, the complex morphology and lack of specific biomarkers that identify key elements of melanoma pathogenesis can make an accurate confirmation of diagnosis challenging. We review the diagnostic constraints of melanoma heterogeneity and discuss issues with interpreting routine histology and problems with current melanoma markers. Innovative approaches are required to find effective biomarkers to enhance patient management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Cutaneous melanoma
  • diagnosis
  • patient outcomes
  • biomarkers


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