Oncology (General Cancer)/melanoma


I read that the "Breslow's depth" staging considers the total vertical height (height above the skin surface plus depth below the skin surface)  to determine staging of melanoma skin cancer.

But how can one estimate the total height based on just looking at the height above the skin surface? Would the height generally about equal the depth (i.e., a mole about .5 MM above the skin surface would also have a .5 depth and therefore a 1MM total vertical height for Breslow staging?

You can't do Breslow scoring without a biopsy that goes from one end to the other of the melanoma.  Breslow scoring is only useful when there are no clinically apparent metastases; a high score says that more treatment may be needed (regional lymph node dissection, wide margin excision of original tumor area.  You can't correlate the area above with the area below; in fact some low depth lesions have most of the tumor above the surface; that's because the tumor cells are not "malignant enough" to break through the basement membrane of the skin.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

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America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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