The histologic and epidemiologic bases for prognostic considerations in canine melanocytic neoplasia

W. L. Spangler, Philip H Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


The laboratory records from 384 dogs with a diagnosis of either melanoma or melanocytoma were selected for study. Significant negative determinants of patient survival for melanocytic tumors were: 1) metastasis, 2) mitotic index (MI), 3) nuclear atypia, 4) tumor score, 5) increasing size/volume, 6) the presence of deep inflammation, and/or 7) intralesional necrosis. In addition to these attributes, age was a significant determinant for tumors of the skin. For the feet and lips, 8) age and 9) junction activity negatively impacted survival. Mathematic models were constructed based on these significant determinants to predict the postsurgical outcome of melanocytic neoplasia. Melanocytic oral neoplasms comprised 19% (73/384) of the neoplasms; 92% of these were classified as malignant in the biopsy report, but malignant behavior (i.e., metastasis or recurrence) was observed in only 59% of cases. The prognostic model for oral tumors based on nuclear atypia provided the most accurate (89%) prediction of overall behavior. Melanocytic tumors of the feet and lips were also 19% (737 384) of the total population. Seventy-four percent were reported malignant, whereas only 38% actually demonstrated malignant behavior. The prognostic models based on both MI or nuclear atypia had an overall correct behavioral classification of 81%. Melanocytic tumors in the skin comprised 59% (227/384) of study specimens. Although 39% were reported as malignant, only 12% exhibited malignant behavior. A satisfactory predictive model that employed MI could not be constructed, but one using nuclear atypia gave an overall correct classification in 93.3% of the cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-149
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Canine
  • Melanocytoma
  • Melanoma
  • Morphology
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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