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Prognostic factors in 17,600 melanoma patients validate new us staging system

Recently (J. Clin. Oncol. 2001; vol 19: 3622-3634) the American Joint Committee on Cancer proposed new changes in the staging system for cutaneous/skin melanoma. An analysis of 17,600 patients with melanoma has largely validated these amendments. In the T (tumour stage) category, tumour thickness and presence/absence of ulceration were all important. In the N (nodal stage) category, the number of metastatically involved nodes and whether they were clinically apparent to the examining physician were the key points. In the M category (metastatic disease) visceral disease (i.e organs such as liver, lungs or brain) versus non visceral disease was important - the viscerally involved patients faring worst. In another recently reported study (J Clin Oncol 2001; 19: 3477-3482), visceral metastases responded worse than cutaneous/skin metastases to interleukin-2. immunotherapy.