The influence of a gene expression signature on the diagnosis and recommended treatment of melanocytic tumors by dermatopathologists

Clay J. Cockerell, Jaime Tschen, Brent Evans, Emily Bess, John Kidd, Kathryn A. Kolquist, Colleen Rock, Loren E. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


It is well documented that histopathologic examination is sometimes inadequate for accurate and reproducible diagnosis of certain melanocytic neoplasms. Recently, a 23-gene expression signature has been clinically validated as an adjunctive diagnostic test to differentiate benign nevi from malignant melanomas. This study aimed to quantify the impact of this test on diagnosis and treatment recommendations made by dermatopathologists. Diagnostically challenging melanocytic lesions encountered during routine dermatopathology practice were submitted for gene expression testing and received a melanoma diagnostic score (MDS). Submitting dermatopathologists completed a survey documenting pre-test diagnosis, level of diagnostic confidence, and recommendations for treatment. The survey was repeated after receiving the MDS. Changes between the pre- and post-test surveys were analyzed retrospectively. When the MDS was available as part of a comprehensive case evaluation in diagnostically challenging cases, definitive diagnoses were increased by 56.6% for cases that were initially indeterminate and changes in treatment recommendations occurred in 49.1% of cases. Treatment recommendations were changed to align with the test result in 76.6% of diagnostically challenging cases. The MDS impacts diagnosis and treatment recommendations by dermatopathologists confronted with diagnostically challenging melanocytic lesions. Increased data are needed in order to completely understand how use of the MDS will translate from dermatopathology to clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4887
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number40
StatePublished - 2016


  • Clinical utility
  • Melanoma
  • Molecular diagnostic techniques
  • Nevi and melanomas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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