BRAF immunohistochemistry predicts sentinel lymph node involvement in intermediate thickness melanomas
Joonas Jukonen; Atte A. Manninen; Maria Gardberg; Suvi Ilmonen; Susanna Juteau; Noora Andersson; Olli Carpén
Background Sentinel node biopsy (SNB) is an important step in melanoma staging and prognostication. It is commonly performed for patients with intermediate thickness melanomas, based on clinicopathological features. However, only 20-25% of patients eventually demonstrate nodal involvement. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether tissue biomarkers with links to melanoma biology, together with clinicopathological parameters, could aid in the prediction of sentinel node involvement and improve selection of patients for SNB. In addition, we examined the role of these clinical or biological markers in disease outcome.
Methods We collected a case-control cohort of 140 intermediate thickness (Breslow 0,9-4,0mm) melanoma patients with or without SNB involvement matched for age, gender, Breslow thickness and location. From this cohort, we tested the predictive value of common clinicopathological parameters (ulceration, mitotic count and tumor regression) and FMNL-2, ezrin and BRAF V600E immunoreactivity, for sentinel node involvement and survival. We further analyzed the correlations in the superficial spreading melanoma subtype.
Results Based on our case control analysis, of the markers, BRAF V600E status (p = 0.010) and mitotic count (p = 0.036) correlated with SNB involvement. SNB status was a strong independent prognosticator for recurrence free survival (RFS p<0.001), melanoma specific survival (MSS p = 0.000) and overall survival (OS p = 0.029). In the superficially spreading melanoma subgroup, BRAF V600E positivity indicated poorer RFS (p = 0.039) and OS (p = 0.012). By combining the Breslow thickness, mitotic count and BRAF immunohistochemistry, we identified a group of superficially spreading melanomas with an excellent survival probability independent of SNB status.
Conclusions These results demonstrate that BRAF immunohistochemistry could serve as a useful addition to a marker panel for selecting intermediate thickness melanoma patients for SNB.
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