BACKGROUND: Several reports have suggested that the expression of cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2) is related to carcinogenesis and the prognosis of cancer. However, few studies have demonstrated the increased expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in malignant melanoma. Furthermore the role of COX-2 in malignant melanoma has not been fully established. OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to investigate COX-2 expression in malignant melanomas and to also find the relationship between the prognostic factors of malignant melanoma and COX-2 expression. METHODS: We performed immunohistochemical staining on paraffin specimens obtained from patients who had undergone a skin biopsy at the Department of Dermatology, Pusan National University Hospital. The specimens were composed of primary cutaneous malignant melanoma (n=17) and nevomelanocytic nevus (n=7). We analyzed the expressions of COX-2 in malignant melanoma with relation to their clinicopathologic type, Breslow thickness, Clark level, lymph node metastasis and TNM stage. RESULTS: COX-2 was expressed in 88.2% (15/17) of the malignant melanoma, but in none of the nevomelanocytic nevus. In malignant melanoma, COX-2 expression was positively related to nodular type, Breslow thickness, Clark level and TNM stage, but not to lymph node metastasis. CONCLUSION: The above results indicate that expressed COX-2 is in malignant melanoma, suggesting that COX-2 expression may contribute to the carcinogenesis of melanocytes.
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