The German Cancer Society has worked out new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of malignant melanoma – a disease with unfavorable prognosis.
Malignant melanoma is responsible for 90% of deaths from skin cancer. The incidence has increased 5-fold within the last 30 years and UV radiation is thought to be an important cause. Caucasian populations are most affected.
Claus Garbe of Tübingen University and his coauthors present the therapy of melanoma in the current edition of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International ( Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105: 845-51). Physicians should confirm the diagnosis by histopathology after complete surgical removal of the tumor. The German Cancer Society recommends specific treatments or therapeutic combinations, depending on the thickness of the tumor and its stage. For example, if the tumor has more than a specific thickness, it is recommended that the primary tumor should be surgically removed, together with the sentinel lymph nodes and in combination with immunotherapy. If surgical removal is not possible, radiotherapy is indicated. If there are distant metastases, physicians should perform monochemotherapy.