MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Gerami: The outcomes for patients with cutaneous melanoma are highly variable and there are limitations to the conventional staging system for melanoma. For example while the status of the sentinel lymph node biopsy is considered the strongest prognosticator, approximately 2/3 of cutaneous melanoma patients that ultimately die from their melanoma will have a negative sentinel lymph node biopsy result. In this study we showed that using a technique known as mRNA expression profiling to determine which genes are highly active and which are not that a molecular prognostic assay with accuracy could be developed. This assay can accurately classify patients based on their gene signature as having a high or low risk for metastasis and death from their melanoma. In an independent validation cohort, patients with a class I or low risk signature had a 5 year disease free survival rate of 97% while those with a class II or high risk signature had a 5 year disease free survival rate of only 31%.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Gerami: This assay maybe used to better predict prognosis and to better guide follow up and management. For example one may choose to have a patient with a class II signature to have more frequent imaging studies and closer clinical follow up.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Gerami: In the future it would be beneficial to determine whether patients with no evidence of active disease but with a class II signature would have any survival benefit from adjuvant therapy.
Gene expression profiling for molecular staging of cutaneous melanoma in patients undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pedram Gerami MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology, Northwestern University (2015). Gene Signature May Predict Risk of Metastases and Death From Melanoma