The Melanoma Staging and Classification system was recently revised by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and implemented effective January 2010 with changes reflecting new prognostic data gleaned by the significantly larger patient population studied for the 7th edition. This newest analysis yields important long-term outcome data as many of the patients were followed for nearly 2 decades. Additions to edition 7 of the AJCC Melanoma Staging classification highlight several important prognostic factors, particularly the addition of mitotic rate for classifying thin melanomas, the presence of microtumor burden in lymph nodes for stage III disease, and elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels in patients with distant metastatic disease. Although the basic tumor-nodes-metastases (ie, TNM) cancer classification model remains unchanged in this newest edition, the current AJCC Melanoma Staging System has incorporated the latest prognostic data to accurately stratify patients into staging categories. It is important for clinicians and dermatopathologists to familiarize themselves with these changes so that patients are suitably managed and referred to medical and surgical oncologists when appropriate.
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