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Abstract

Background

Incidence rates of malignant melanoma have been increasing worldwide and metastatic melanoma is still a significant problem despite widespread prevention programmes.

Objectives

We made a systemic review of all metastasized melanoma patients treated at the Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Graz in the years 2000–2010 and looked at the kind of melanoma type, e.g. if it has been slowly growing superficial spreading melanoma (SSM) or fast growing nodular melanoma (NM).

Methods

Histological slides and clinical images of patients treated at our department between 2000 and 2010, who received chemotherapy because of proven metastatic disease were analysed with regard to growth type of their primary tumours.

Results

A total of 88 patients met the inclusion criteria. Mean age of all patients was 57 years (median 59 years, SD ± 15 years). Of these 88 patients 51 patients (58%) (28 male patients and 23 female patients) had SSM; mean age 58 years (median 58 years, SD ± 14 years) and 37 patients (42%) (18 male patients and 19 female patients) had NM; mean age 56 years (median 61 years, SD ± 17 years). Mean Breslow thickness in the SSM group was 2.26 mm (median: 1.6 mm, SD ± 2.11 mm). In the NM group, mean Breslow thickness was 4.59 mm (median: 3.50 mm, SD ± 4.07 mm). When separated by gender, 46 melanomas were seen in the male group (28 SSM and 18 NM) and 42 melanomas in the female group (23 SSM and 19 NM).

Conclusions

Our results showed that more than half of the patients with metastatic disease had SSMs and not, as suspected, NMs. As SSMs are growing over a longer period to become invasive and potentially metastatic, there might be a chance to focus primary and secondary prevention programmes not only on fast growing tumours but also on slowly changes of tumours.