Objectives: Cutaneous melanoma (CM) is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer. In 2008, CM was found to be the sixth most common cancer in the UK. The aim of this review was to systematically identify patients with advanced CM, limited to stage IIIc and stage IV disease.
Methods: Literature searches were undertaken in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, CINAHL and EMBASE between December 2010 and March 2011. Webpages of the Office of National Statistics, Cancer Research UK and the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit were also scanned. A narrative synthesis was undertaken due to the heterogeneity of included studies.
Results: Three observational studies were identified. One study was in East Anglia, England while the remaining two were in Scotland. Both studies in Scotland estimated that 2% of all melanoma patients had advanced CM at the time of diagnosis. It was also noted that, in East Anglia, the incidence of stage IV CM decreased from 0.42 to 0.13 per 100,000 population per year between 1991 and 2004. The review highlighted the challenges in identifying patients with advanced CM from available data.
Conclusions: This review highlighted the lack of, and the need for primary studies to estimate the incidence of advanced CM in the UK. Defining this subgroup of patients is important for identifying patients for targeted treatment. We suggest that researchers must clearly define this population of patients in future studies.