(HealthDay News) — A subset of melanoma patients with stage I lesions and negative clinical nodes have a very low risk of death, according to a study published in Cancer.

Megan M. Eguchi, from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues selected melanoma patients diagnosed in 2010 and 2011 who had stage I lesions ≤1.0 mm thick and negative clinical lymph nodes from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database.

The study included 11,594 patients — 7652 in a training set and 3942 in a test set. Models were developed and validated for identifying patients with a very low risk of death from melanoma within 7 years.

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The researchers found that 25% of the patients had a low risk of death. The 7-year mortality rate was less than 1% for this low-risk group, compared with 2.5% for the overall cohort.

In all models, younger age at diagnosis and Clark level II were associated with a low risk of death. Other factors associated with a low risk of death were Breslow thickness less than 0.4 mm, absence of mitogenicity, absence of ulceration, and female sex.

The researchers also identified a small subset of high-risk patients who had a 7-year mortality rate that exceeded 20%.

“This study suggests there is a real subset of patients with very‐low risk of melanoma death; we hope this serves as a baseline to further develop the classification criteria to establish use of the melanocytic neoplasms of low malignant potential term in clinical practice,” the authors wrote.

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