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Keywords:

  • angiogenesis;
  • Breslow thickness;
  • Chalkley count;
  • melanoma;
  • prognosis

Aims : Two-hundred and four accessible cases of malignant melanoma from the Grampian region of Scotland, collected over a period of 4 years, were studied for standard prognostic indicators for comparison with microvessel density.

Methods and results : The range of tumour thickness varied from in-situ melanoma to 14.8 mm. Microvessel density was assessed using the Chalkley technique on sections immunostained with CD31 antibody to identify endothelium. Vessel counts were performed in the peritumoral host tissue of all specimens. Strong correlation was observed between microvessel density at the tumour edge and tumour thickness (P < 0.001). Multifactorial regression analysis confirms Chalkley estimation as a reliable predictor of the risk of recurrence of melanoma (P < 0.005). The predictive value was found to be superior to the Breslow score, for tumours more than 2 mm thick.

Conclusions : Microvessel assessment of primary melanoma using the Chalkley score technique provides reliable prognostic information on the risk of recurrence of the tumour, particularly for melanomas deeper than 2 mm. It remains to be seen whether this methodology can predict response to novel anti-angiogenic therapies currently entering trials.