New guidelines may slightly increase reliability, accuracy of melanoma diagnoses

May 21, 2018 by David Olmos, University of California, Los Angeles
Scan (at two resolutions) of a category 3 melanoma in situ. Credit: The BMJ

In a new study, researchers have developed updated guidelines for classifying a serious form of skin cancer called invasive melanoma. The American Joint Committee on Cancer, an organization that provides information on "cancer staging," or the severity of individual cases of cancer, recently updated its guidelines for melanoma. The researchers found that when pathologists used the new guidelines for cases of early stage invasive melanoma, they agreed with an expert-defined diagnosis 10 percent more often.

In the study, researchers reviewed 4,342 analyses of 116 cases of invasive melanoma, made by a total of 187 pathologists from 10 U.S. states.

The physicians' interpretations were compared with an expert consensus to assess accuracy. The pathologists were unaware that they were interpreting the same set of cases twice; the second viewing occurred at least eight months after the first.

Every few years, the AJCC updates guidelines for categorizing cancers. Physicians use the guidelines to estimate patients' prognosis, determine surgical options, and evaluate whether they are candidates for other therapies or clinical trials. The guidelines should enable pathologists to provide an accurate diagnosis that would be the same as the diagnosis another pathologist would give.

In a prior study, the same researchers showed that pathologists disagreed about the diagnosis of early-stage invasive melanoma more than 50 percent of the time, and they wanted to learn if the new guidelines would lead to more reliable diagnoses.

Pathologists may be able to more accurately classify invasive melanoma using the new guidelines. Although there was only slight improvement in how often pathologists agreed on characterizing invasive melanoma, that difference could help improve treatment outcomes for some patients.

Still, the likelihood that will agree on the diagnosis of early-stage tissue and make an accurate diagnosis is low.

The study was published in the JAMA Network Open.

Explore further: Study raises concern over accuracy of melanoma diagnoses

Related Stories

Study raises concern over accuracy of melanoma diagnoses

June 28, 2017
Concerns over the accuracy of melanoma diagnoses are raised in a study of US pathologists published by The BMJ today.

Pathologists vary in suggested therapy for melanocytic lesions

December 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—Pathologists have wide variability in treatment suggestions for melanocytic lesions, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Pathologists often disagree on breast biopsy results when diagnosing DCIS

March 21, 2016
A study applying B-Path (Breast Pathology) Study results to patient populations found that pathologists disagree with one another about 8 percent of the time when diagnosing a single breast biopsy slide. Discordance was more ...

Review of appendix cancer cases finds over diagnosis

June 8, 2017
Lesions of the appendix are being over diagnosed as invasive cancer, report University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers in a paper published June 7 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Skin cancers linked with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

April 19, 2018
Previous studies have demonstrated a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in individuals with various cancers, including non-melanoma skin cancers (including squamous cell cancers and basal cell cancers). A new Journal ...

Updated guideline for molecular testing and targeted therapies in lung cancer

January 23, 2018
A panel of leading experts in molecular pathology has issued new recommendations and updates to guidelines for molecular diagnostic testing of patients with lung cancer. The new guidelines reflect recent advancements, as ...

Recommended for you

Function of neutrophils during tumor progression unraveled

October 15, 2018
Researchers at The Wistar Institute have characterized the function of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, during early stages of tumor progression, showing that they migrate from the bone marrow to distant sites and ...

Delving where few others have gone, leukemia researchers open new path

October 15, 2018
A Wilmot Cancer Institute study uncovers how a single gene could be at fault in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest cancers. The breakthrough gives researchers renewed hope that a gene-targeted therapy could ...

3-D mammography detected 34% more breast cancers in screening

October 15, 2018
In traditional mammography screening, all breast tissue is captured in a single image. Breast tomosynthesis, on the other hand, is three-dimensional and works according to the same principle as what is known as tomography. ...

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer

October 15, 2018
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process—changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding—uses a molecular process believed ...

Cancer stem cells use 'normal' genes in abnormal ways

October 12, 2018
CDK1 is a "normal" protein—its presence drives cells through the cycle of replication. And MHC Class I molecules are "normal" as well—they present bits of proteins on the surfaces of cells for examination by the immune ...

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.