There are no great differences between familial and sporadic melanomas in biologic behavior or patient outcome, researchers report in the October 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
As senior investigator Dr. Sancy A. Leachman told Reuters Health, “the most important finding from our study was the apparent similarity between the melanomas that occur in families versus those that are non-familial. This suggests that melanomas within families are good models for the investigation of melanoma in general.”Dr. Leachman of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City and colleagues examined data on more than 7000 cases of invasive melanoma found in the Utah Cancer Registry.Eventually, 2659 with family history information were assigned a familial score, with individuals in the top 9% having high familial risk and the remainder having low familial risk.There was no association between familial status and sex, Breslow depth, Clark level or survival. In the high familial risk group the age at first diagnosis of invasive melanoma was slightly lower than in the low risk group (57 years versus 60 years). In addition, a higher proportion of the high-risk group had melanomas diagnosed by the age of 30 years compared with those in the low-risk group (12% versus 6%).No between-group difference was seen in the overall number of subjects who had two or more primary malignant melanomas.”Although familiality is the greatest single risk factor for development of melanoma, it is not an independent prognostic indicator and does not seem to influence the overall or melanoma-specific survival,” the researchers conclude.(Source: J Clin Oncol 2005;23:7168-7177: Reuters Health: Oncolink: October 2005.)