Malignant Melanoma Prognostic Features

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Pocket Guide to Malignant MelanomaThe Correct Answer is D

The lesion is a malignant melanoma. Melanomas can develop either de novo or in an existing mole. Sunlight exposure is a significant risk factor and fair-skinned persons are at increased risk of developing melanoma. The most significant factor for long term prognosis is the depth of the lesion, since the superficial dermis lies about 1 mm under the skin surface, and penetration to this depth is associated with a much higher incidence of metastasis than is seen with a more superficial location.

The circumference of the lesion (choice A) is much less important than depth , since one form of melanoma (superficial spreading) can still have good prognosis despite large size, if it has not extended to the depth of the superficial dermal lymphatic bed. The darkness (choice B) or degree of variation in color (choice C) do not have prognostic significance once melanoma is diagnosed. Irregularity, or fuzziness at the border (choice E) of a mole-like lesion is a good clue to potential malignancy, but does not affect prognosis once a melanoma is diagnosed.




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