Trending Clinical Topic: Melanoma

Ryan Syrek


November 08, 2019

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

A look at ongoing improvement in overall prognosis, as well as several studies about key associations, helped make melanoma this week's top trending clinical topic. Metastatic melanoma was once considered nearly a death sentence, with a median survival of less than a year, but patients are now living longer—more than 10 years for some. In fact, clinicians are now talking about a "functional cure" in patients who respond well to treatment. This change in prognosis is attributed to greater knowledge of the molecular biology of melanoma and the immune system, as well as the development of drugs that target components derived from that knowledge.

In other news, an observational study has singled out urethral involvement as a key factor in the risk recurrence for women with vulvar malignant melanoma. That and tumor depth predict prognosis, according to the study, which was the largest of its kind with the longest follow-up. The other key finding was that vulvar malignant melanoma often presents with clinical multifocality, such that the patient often has multiple pigmented lesions.

A separate study found that cutavirus has no role in malignant melanoma. Although it had been found previously in cutaneous melanoma, this study found cutavirus DNA in only two of 185 melanoma biopsies and in none of the 52 melanoma metastases. In terms of reducing risk for melanoma, analysis from the Swedish Obese Subjects study found that bariatric surgery and the weight loss it induces are associated with a markedly reduced risk for skin cancer, including melanoma. The research found that patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 57% lower risk of developing melanoma compared with patients who received conventional obesity treatments. However, at least one melanoma expert, Jeffrey Weber, MD, is skeptical of the findings. Among other reasons to approach the findings with caution, Weber points to the lack of adjustment for confounders that increase the risk for melanoma and the fact that the incidence of melanoma in the study was 50% of the incidence of skin cancer. From an encouraging prognostic trend to some potentially significant studies, it's not surprising that melanoma is this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more about melanoma.


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