In 1991, it was estimated that, in the United States, there were over 6500 deaths from malignant melanoma (MM). There are many things about the biology of MM and its interaction with the host's immune system that we do not understand. Yet, we have come a long way—5-year survival has increased from 43% during the 1930s to greater than 80% by the mid-1980s. Many MM investigators have sought the Holy Grail, a factor or group of factors that would allow for the accurate prognostication of disease behavior in the majority of patients.
The study of prognostic factors is important not only for a better understanding of the biologic behavior of MM but also for the optimal management of these patients and for the design and evaluation of therapeutic trials. In the past two decades, many clinical, histologic, immunologic, and cytometric factors have been reported to influence the prognosis of patients
Rivers JK, Ho VC. Malignant MelanomaWho Shall Live and Who Shall Die?. Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(4):537-542. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680140117016