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1.  Surgery and radiotherapy in the treatment of cutaneous melanoma 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi22-vi29.
Adequate surgical management of primary melanoma and regional lymph node metastasis, and rarely distant metastasis, is the only established curative treatment. Surgical management of primary melanomas consists of excisions with 1–2 cm margins and primary closure. The recommended method of biopsy is excisional biopsy with a 2 mm margin and a small amount of subcutaneous fat. In specific situations (very large lesions or certain anatomical areas), full-thickness incisional or punch biopsy may be acceptable. Sentinel lymph node biopsy provides accurate staging information for patients with clinically unaffected regional nodes and without distant metastases, although survival benefit has not been proved. In cases of positive sentinel node biopsy or clinically detected regional nodal metastases (palpable, positive cytology or histopathology), radical removal of lymph nodes of the involved basin is indicated. For resectable local/in-transit recurrences, excision with a clear margin is recommended. For numerous or unresectable in-transit metastases of the extremities, isolated limb perfusion or infusion with melphalan should be considered. Decisions about surgery of distant metastases should be based on individual circumstances. Radiotherapy is indicated as a treatment option in select patients with lentigo maligna melanoma and as an adjuvant in select patients with regional metastatic disease. Radiotherapy is also indicated for palliation, especially in bone and brain metastases.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp257
PMCID: PMC2712595  PMID: 19617294
cutaneous melanoma; electrochemotherapy; limb perfusion; melanoma radiotherapy; melanoma surgery; sentinel node
2.  Staging of cutaneous melanoma 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi14-vi21.
The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging of cutaneous melanoma is a continuously evolving system. The identification of increasingly more accurate prognostic factors has led to major changes in melanoma staging over the years, and the current system described in this review will likely be modified in the near future. Likewise, application of new imaging techniques has also changed the staging work-up of patients with cutaneous melanoma. Chest and abdominal computed tomography (CT) scanning is most commonly used for evaluation of potential metastatic sites in the lungs, lymph nodes and liver, and is indicated in patients with new symptoms, anaemia, elevated lactate dehydrogenase or a chest X-ray abnormality. CT scans should be restricted to patients with high-risk melanoma (stage IIC, IIIB, IIIC and stage IIIA with a macroscopic sentinel lymph node). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is a mandatory test in patients with stage IV, optional in stage III and not used in patients with stage I and II disease. Positron emission tomography (PET)/CT is more accurate than CT or MRI alone in the diagnosis of metastases and should complement conventional CT/MRI imaging in the staging work-up of patients who have solitary or oligometastatic disease where surgical resection is most relevant.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp256
PMCID: PMC2712594  PMID: 19617293
follow-up; imaging; melanoma; staging system; staging work-up
3.  Small molecules and targeted therapies in distant metastatic disease 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi35-vi40.
Chemotherapy, biological agents or combinations of both have had little impact on survival of patients with metastatic melanoma. Advances in understanding the genetic changes associated with the development of melanoma resulted in availability of promising new agents that inhibit specific proteins up-regulated in signal cell pathways or inhibit anti-apoptotic proteins. Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor of the RAF/RAS/MEK pathway, elesclomol (STA-4783) and oblimersen (G3139), an antisense oligonucleotide targeting anti-apoptotic BCl-2, are in phase III clinical studies in combination with chemotherapy. Agents targeting mutant B-Raf (RAF265 and PLX4032), MEK (PD0325901, AZD6244), heat-shock protein 90 (tanespimycin), mTOR (everolimus, deforolimus, temsirolimus) and VEGFR (axitinib) showed some promise in earlier stages of clinical development. Receptor tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (imatinib, dasatinib, sunitinib) may have a role in treatment of patients with melanoma harbouring c-Kit mutations. Although often studied as single agents with disappointing results, new targeted drugs should be more thoroughly evaluated in combination therapies. The future of rational use of new targeted agents also depends on successful application of analytical techniques enabling molecular profiling of patients and leading to selection of likely therapy responders.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp254
PMCID: PMC2712592  PMID: 19617296
B-Raf; c-Kit; inhibitor; melanoma; mTOR; multikinase
4.  Immunotherapy of distant metastatic disease 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi41-vi50.
Immunotherapy of metastatic melanoma consists of various approaches leading to specific or non-specific immunomodulation. The use of FDA-approved interleukin (IL)-2 alone, in combination with interferon α, and/or with various chemotherapeutic agents (biochemotherapy) is associated with significant toxicity and poor efficacy that does not improve overall survival of 96% of patients. Many studies with allogeneic and autologous vaccines have demonstrated no clinical benefit, and some randomised trials even showed a detrimental effect in the vaccine arm. The ongoing effort to develop melanoma vaccines based on dendritic cells and peptides is driven by advances in understanding antigen presentation and processing, and by new techniques of vaccine preparation, stabilisation and delivery. Several agents that have shown promising activity in metastatic melanoma including IL-21 and monoclonal antibodies targeting cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (anti-CTLA-4) or CD137 are discussed. Recent advances of intratumour gene transfer technologies and adoptive immunotherapy, which represents a promising although technically challenging direction, are also discussed.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp253
PMCID: PMC2712591  PMID: 19617297
adoptive immunotherapy; anti-CTLA-4; interferon; interleukin; metastatic melanoma; vaccine
5.  Epidemiology of invasive cutaneous melanoma 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi1-vi7.
Data are presented on the current incidence of melanoma with recent and predicted future trends illustrating a likely continuing increase in incidence. Risk factors for developing melanoma are discussed, including current known melanoma susceptibility genes. Phenotypic markers of high-risk subjects include high counts of benign melanocytic naevi. Other risk factors considered include exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation, the effect of female sex hormones, socioeconomic status, occupation, exposure to pesticides and ingestion of therapeutic drugs including immunosuppressives and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Aids to earlier diagnosis are considered, including public education, screening and use of equipment such as the dermatoscope. Finally, the current pattern of survival and mortality is described.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp252
PMCID: PMC2712590  PMID: 19617292
cutaneous melanoma; incidence; mortality; risk factors; survival
6.  Biomarkers in melanoma 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi8-vi13.
Biomarkers are tumour- or host-related factors that correlate with tumour biological behaviour and patient prognosis. High-throughput analytical techniques—DNA and RNA microarrays—have identified numerous possible biomarkers, but their relevance to melanoma progression, clinical outcome and the selection of optimal treatment strategies still needs to be established. The review discusses a possible molecular basis for predictive tissue biomarkers such as melanoma thickness, ulceration and mitotic activity, and provides a list of promising new biomarkers identified from tissue microarrays that needs confirmation by independent, prospectively collected clinical data sets. In addition, common predictive serum biomarkers—lactate dehydrogenase, S100B and melanoma-inhibiting activity—as well as selected investigational serum biomarkers such as TA90IC and YKL-40 are also reviewed. A more accurate, therapeutically predictive classification of human melanomas and selection of patient populations that would profit from therapeutic interventions are among the major challenges expected to be addressed in the future.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp251
PMCID: PMC2712589  PMID: 19617299
biomarkers; melanoma; LDH; MIA; S100
7.  Utility of adjuvant systemic therapy in melanoma 
Annals of Oncology  2009;20(Suppl 6):vi30-vi34.
The lack of effective drugs in stage IV melanoma has impacted the effectiveness of adjuvant therapies in stage II/III disease. To date, chemotherapy, immunostimulants and vaccines have been used with minimal success. Interferon (IFN) has shown an effect on relapse-free survival (RFS) in several clinical trials; however, without a clinically significant effect on overall survival (OS). A recently conducted meta-analysis demonstrated prolongation of disease-free survival (DFS) in 7% and OS benefit in 3% of IFN-treated patients when compared with observation-only patients. There were no clear differences for the dose and duration of treatment observed. Observation is still an appropriate control arm in adjuvant clinical trials. Regional differences exist in Europe in the adjuvant use of IFN. In Northwest Europe, IFN is infrequently prescribed. In Central and Mediterranean Europe, dermatologists commonly prescribe low-dose IFN therapy for AJCC stage II and III disease. High-dose IFN regimens are not commonly used. The population of patients that may benefit from IFN needs to be further characterised, potentially by finding biomarkers that can predict response. Such studies are ongoing.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp250
PMCID: PMC2712588  PMID: 19617295
adjuvant therapy; interferon; melanoma; metastasis; randomised trials

Results 1-7 (7)