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Role of the Clinical Laboratory in the Diagnosis and Management of Malignant Melanoma

      The biosynthesis of melanin from tyrosine is reviewed as the basis for assessment of laboratory tests that might potentially aid in the diagnosis and management of patients with malignant melanoma. These tests include qualitative and quantitative assays for the intermediates in metabolism of melanin and catecholamines, enzyme assays, metal ion analyses, and, most recently, immunoassays. Although currently no role exists for the clinical laboratory in the early diagnosis of malignant melanoma, serial quantitative analyses of total or individual melanogens or of catecholamine metabolites in urine or plasma specimens may be of value in the management of patients with this disorder. Immunologically based methods for the diagnosis and management of malignant melanoma hold some promise for the future.
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