Mitotic rate in cutaneous melanomas ≤1 mm in thickness: A prospective study

Brandon R. Litzner, Chukwuemeka N. Etufugh, Shelly Stepenaskie, Linda S. Hynan, Clay J. Cockerell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The mitotic rate (MR) of malignant melanoma (MM) refers to the number of mitoses per square millimeter. Studies have suggested that it is an independent prognostic variable predicting survival in patients with MM, and it was recently included in the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of MM. The AJCC melanoma staging committee recommends using the "hot-spot" approach to determine the MR, whereby it is reported as the maximum dermal mitotic figures identified in a 1-mm area of the melanoma. The AJCC has recommended that the MR be determined in all melanomas, irrespective of Breslow depth or other features. We aimed to quantify the MR in MM ≤1 mm in thickness and to identify statistical associations between the MR, Breslow depth, and Clark level. In addition, we hoped to identify practical issues in determining the MR via the hot-spot technique. We conducted a prospective study to determine the MR, Breslow depth, and Clark level in MM ≤1 mm in thickness. Seven melanomas were identified with epidermal mitoses only (7.4%). Sixteen melanomas had dermal mitoses (16.8%); of these, the majority (75.0%) contained only one mitotic figure. Seventy-nine melanomas had no dermal mitoses (83.2%). Seven lesions (7.4%) demonstrated multiple mitoses; 4 with ≥2 dermal mitoses/mm and 3 with multiple epidermal mitoses. We conclude that thin MM with >1 mitosis/mm is rare and discuss practical and theoretical issues with determining the MR using the hot-spot approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-832
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Dermatopathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Hot-spot technique
  • Melanoma
  • Mitotic rate
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Thin melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Dermatology


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