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[2 min read] Predicting the risk of melanoma recurrence

Melanoma patients with lower T-cell fraction are 2.5 times more likely to have cancer metastasise than patients with higher T-cell fraction, new research has found.

Melanoma can often be cured when the primary lesion is removed from the patient’s skin. However, melanoma can also recur and spread. In a recent paper, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at a new technique using DNA sequencing to make more accurate predictions about which primary melanomas are likely to recur and spread.

The team sought to determine if certain measurable features of T cells could predict recurrence in patients whose primary melanoma had been removed and were free of disease. They compared samples from patients whose primary melanoma progressed to metastatic disease to patients whose primary melanoma did not.

Of all variables identified, the T cell fraction was a powerful, independent predictor of which patients would progress, even for patients whose lesion thickness was the same. Patients with a T cell fraction of lower than 20 per cent were more at-risk of disease progression than patients with a T cell fraction of higher than 20 per cent.

Researchers envision that, if brought into primary care, the quantitative test could strengthen current prediction models and improve patient care by predicting disease progression and tailoring treatment.

Learn more about skin cancer medicine in primary care at the next Skin Cancer Certificate Courses:

Skin Cancer Certificate Courses in Australia

Source: Pruessmann, W et al. “Molecular analysis of primary melanoma T cells identifies patients at risk for metastatic recurrence” Nature Cancer DOI: 10.1038/s43018-019-0019-5

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