According to Dr Chu, further research into specific melanoma mutations and targeted therapies could help doctors provide more effective treatment in the future. She said clinicians must now sort out which tests are the most useful for identifying susceptibility to melanoma and the identification of the CDKN2A mutation.

Clinicians must also decide which tests are the most helpful for identifying treatable mutations in patients with advanced melanomas (stages 3 to 4), and which tests are most helpful for diagnosing melanoma vs an atypical nevus.

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Melanoma rates in the United States are continuing to rise and this has been a concern for many years. A report published last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that incidence rates will increase for white males and females through 2019 and the death rates are projected to remain stable.2 

It is estimated that about 9000 individuals will die from melanoma each year, making it the most common cause of skin cancer death. The report estimated that the annual cost of treating newly diagnosed melanomas will increase from an estimated $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.

Laura Ferris, MD, PhD, an associate professor of dermatology  with the University of Pittsburg in PA, said gene expression profiling provides an alternative to more invasive procedures to better understand the biologic behavior of melanocytic skin tumors.

She said it also may help provide additional information above what is available from current standard procedures of skin biopsy, histology, and sentinel node biopsy.

RELATED: Total Nevus Counts Should Not Be Sole Reason for Determining Risk Status in Melanoma

Dr Ferris, who spoke on the current use of molecular diagnostics for melanoma at the meeting, said clinicians now have specific molecular assays, such as fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), comparative genomic hybridization, the DermTech adhesive patch test, the Myriad mRNA profiling expression test, and the Castle GEP assay, for diagnosis of melanocytic neoplasms.3 She said it is important that clinicians understand when these tests are indicated and they should be aware of the specific limitations of each.