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Keywords:

  • cutaneous melanoma;
  • lymphangiogenesis;
  • lymphatic vessels density;
  • lymphatic vessels invasion;
  • lymph node metastasis;
  • prognosis;
  • survival

Summary

Recently developed lymphatic-specific immunohistochemical markers can now be utilized to assess intratumoral and/or peritumoral lymphatic vessel density (LVD), to detect lymphatic vessel invasion (LVI) by melanoma cells and to identify lymphatic marker expression in melanoma cells themselves. We systematically reviewed the available evidence for the expression of lymphatic markers as predictors of regional node metastasis and survival in melanoma patients. The currently available evidence suggests that LVD (particularly in a peritumoral location) and LVI are predictors of sentinel node metastasis and poorer survival. Nevertheless, adherence to international guidelines in the conduct and reporting of the studies was generally poor, with wide methodologic variations and heterogeneous findings. Larger, carefully conducted and well-reported studies that confirm these preliminary findings are required before it would be appropriate to recommend the routine application of costly and time-consuming immunohistochemistry for lymphatic markers in the routine clinical assessment of primary cutaneous melanomas.