Lymphatic and blood vasculature in primary cutaneous melanomas of the scalp and neck

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Background.Scalp/neck melanomas have a poor prognosis, possibly because of a rich vascular supply that prompts tumor cells' dissemination.Methods.We compared the accuracy of immunohistochemical (IHC) staining with morphology for the identification of lymphovascular invasion in 156 scalp/neck melanomas. We then analyzed the association of vessel invasion and density with pathological features and survival.Results.IHC-detected lymphatic vessel invasion (LVI) and blood vessel invasion (BVI) were identified in 34.6% and 13.5% of cases, respectively. IHC increased the LVI/BVI detection compared to morphology (40.4% vs 16.6%; p < .001). The degree of peritumoral and intratumoral blood vessel density (BVD) was greater than lymphatic vessel density (LVD). Ulceration was the only factor independently associated with intratumoral (p = .029) and peritumoral (p = .047) BVD. Tumor thickness was the only independent predictor of survival (p = .002).Conclusion.IHC allows accurate assessment of lymphovascular invasion in scalp/neck melanomas. In these tumors, we observed a high incidence of BVI, which deserves further investigations. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 37: 1596–1602, 2015

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