Genomic and proteomic findings in early melanoma and opportunities for early diagnosis.
Overdiagnosis of early melanoma is a significant problem. Due to subtle unique and overlapping clinical and histological criteria between pigmented lesions and the risk of mortality from melanoma, some benign pigmented lesions are diagnosed as melanoma. Although histopathology is the gold standard to diagnose melanoma, there is a demand to find alternatives that are more accurate and cost-effective. In the current “omics” era, there is gaining interest in biomarkers to help diagnose melanoma early and to further understand the mechanisms driving tumor progression. Genomic investigations have attempted to differentiate malignant melanoma from benign pigmented lesions. However, genetic biomarkers of early melanoma diagnosis have not yet proven their value in the clinical setting. Protein biomarkers may be more promising since they directly influence tissue phenotype, a result of by-products of genomic mutations, posttranslational modifications and environmental factors. Uncovering relevant protein biomarkers could increase confidence in their use as diagnostic signatures. Currently, proteomic investigations of melanoma progression from pigmented lesions are limited. Studies have previously characterised the melanoma proteome from cultured cell lines and clinical samples such as serum and tissue. This has been useful in understanding how melanoma progresses into metastasis and development of resistance to adjuvant therapies. Currently, most studies focus on metastatic melanoma to find potential drug therapy targets, prognostic factors and markers of resistance. This paper reviews recent advancements in the genomics and proteomic fields and reports potential avenues, which could help identify and differentiate melanoma from benign pigmented lesions and prevent the progression of melanoma.