Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 19–32 | Cite as

Causation and melanoma classification

Article

Abstract

In this article, I begin by giving a brief history of melanoma causation. I then discuss the current manner in which malignant melanoma is classified. In general, these systems of classification do not take account of the manner of tumour causation. Instead, they are based on phenomenological features of the tumour, such as size, spread, and morphology. I go on to suggest that misclassification of melanoma is a major problem in clinical practice. I therefore outline an alternative means of classifying these tumours based on causal factors. By analogy with similar systems that have recently emerged for other cancers, I suggest that this causal classification is likely to be both workable and helpful, even in the absence of a full causal-mechanistic understanding of the aetiology of the tumour.

Keywords

Melanoma Classification Causation Mechanism 

References

  1. 1.
    Denkler, K., and J. Johnson. 1999. A lost piece of melanoma history. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 104(7): 2149–2153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Laennec, R.T.H. 1806. Sur les melanoses. Bulletin de la Faculte de Medecine de Paris 1: 24–26.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Handley, W.S. 1907. The Bunterian lectures on the pathology of melanotic growths in relation to their operative treatment. Lancet 169(4362): 927–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Norris, W. 1820. A case of fungoid disease. Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal 16: 562–565.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carswell, R. 1838. Pathological anatomy. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Urteaga, O., and G.T. Pack. 1966. On the antiquity of melanoma. Cancer 19(5): 607–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rolleston, H.D. 1899. A clinical lecture on secondary melanotic sarcoma of the liver. Lancet 153(3950): 1273–1275.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Clarkson, G.A. 1899. Malignant pigmented tumours. Lancet 153(3951): 1392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Anonymous. 1939. Melanoma. Lancet 234(6070): 1376.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Handley, W.S. 1907. The Bunterian lectures on the pathology of melanotic growths in relation to their operative treatment. Lancet 169(4363): 996–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cancer Council Australia. 2010. Melanoma. Cancer Council Australia. http://www.cancer.org.au/aboutcancer/cancertypes/melanoma.htm. Accessed 1 Dec 2009.
  12. 12.
    Marks, R. 2000. Epidemiology of melanoma. Clinical & Experimental Dermatology 25(6): 459–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Garland, C.F., F.C. Garland, and E.D. Gorham. 1992. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? American Journal of Public Health 82(4): 614–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Williams, H.C. 2003. Evidence-based dermatology. London: BMJ Books.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Berwick, M., B.K. Armstrong, L. Ben-Porat, J. Fine, A. Kricker, C. Eberle, and R. Barnhill. 2005. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 97(3): 195–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Curtin, J.A., J. Fridlyand, T. Kageshita, et al. 2005. Distinct sets of genetic alterations in melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine 353(20): 2135–2147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kuphal, S., and A. Bosserhoff. 2009. Recent progress in understanding the pathology of malignant melanoma. Journal of Pathology 219(4): 400–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ackerman, A.B. 1980. Malignant melanoma: A unifying concept. Human Pathology 11(6): 591–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Clark, W.H., L. From, E.A. Bernardino, and M.C. Mihm. 1969. The histogenesis and biologic behavior of primary human malignant melanomas of the skin. Cancer Research 29(3): 705–727.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Breslow, A. 1970. Thickness, cross-sectional areas and depth of invasion in the prognosis of cutaneous melanoma. Annals of Surgery 172(5): 902–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    McGovern, V.J., M.C. Mihm, C. Bailly, et al. 1973. The classification of malignant melanoma and its histologic reporting. Cancer 32(6): 1446–1457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    World Health Organization. 2007. International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems. 10th revision. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Greene, F.L., C.C. Compton, A.G. Fritz, J. Shah, and D.P. Winchester. 2006. AJCC cancer staging atlas. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Petersen, N.C., D.C. Bodenham, and O.C. Lloyd. 1962. Malignant melanomas of the skin. British Journal of Plastic Surgery 15(1): 49–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Petersen, N.C., D.C. Bodenham, and O.C. Lloyd. 1962. Malignant melanomas of the skin. British Journal of Plastic Surgery 15(2): 97–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Trapl, J., L. Palecek, J. Ebel, and M. Kucera. 1966. Tentative new classification of melanoma of the skin. Acta Dermato-Venereologica 46: 443–446.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ben-Porat, L., K.S. Panageas, C. Hanlon, A. Patel, A. Halpern, A.N. Houghton, and D. Coit. 2006. Estimates of stage-specific survival are altered by changes in the 2002 American Joint Committee on cancer staging system for melanoma. Cancer 106(1): 163–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Anonymous. 1965. Malignant melanomas of the skin. Lancet 286(7423): 1171–1172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Craver, C.F. 2007. Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Machamer, P., L. Darden, and C.F. Craver. 2000. Thinking about mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67(1): 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Campaner, R. 2011. Understanding mechanisms in the health sciences. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32(1).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Natali, P.G., M.R. Nicotra, A.B. Winkler, R. Cavaliere, A. Bigotti, and A. Ullrich. 1992. Progression of human cutaneous melanoma is associated with loss of expression of c-KIT proto-oncogene receptor. International Journal of Cancer 52(2): 197–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hodi, F.S., P. Friedlander, C.L. Corless, et al. 2008. Major response to imatinib mesylate in KIT-mutated melanoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology 26(12): 2046–2051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lutzky, J., J. Bauer, and B.C. Bastian. 2008. Dose-dependent, complete response to imatinib of a metastatic mucosal melanoma with a K642E KIT mutation. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 21(4): 492–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Wyman, K., M.B. Atkins, V. Prieto, et al. 2006. Multicenter phase II trial of high-dose imatinib mesylate in metastatic melanoma: Significant toxicity with no clinical efficacy. Cancer 106(9): 2005–2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Charig, C.R., D.R. Webb, S.R. Payne, and J.E. Wickham. 1986. Comparison of treatment of renal calculi by open surgery, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, and extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. British Medical Journal 292(6524): 879–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. 2009. Breast cancer (early & locally advanced). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG80/Guidance/pdf/English.
  38. 38.
    Kerlikowske, K., A.M. Molinaro, M.L. Gauthier, et al. 2010. Biomarker expression and risk of subsequent tumors after initial ductal carcinoma in situ diagnosis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 102(9): 627–637.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Dupré, J. 2001. In defence of classification. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32: 203–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology StudiesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations