Lymph node status remains one of the most important determinants for prognosis in patients with invasive malignant melanoma. Immunohistochemical stains are routinely employed in the histopathologic evaluation of sentinel lymph nodes removed for staging in patients with melanoma. Histologic analysis may reveal the presence of incidental benign melanocytic nevus cell inclusions (BMNCI), which are critical to distinguish from metastatic melanoma (MM). Our study assesses the utility of NK1 C3 (CD63) immunohistochemical staining in distinguishing between MM and BMNCI in sentinel lymph nodes. We found no difference in staining of MM and BMNCI, precluding its usefulness in differentiating between benign and malignant melanocytes. Thus CD63 lacks specificity when facing challenging cases requiring distinction between benign and malignant melanocytic cells; however, in combination with other immunohistochemical antibodies, CD63 may be useful in supporting melanocytic differentiation. Distinguishing MM and BMNCI continues to be a diagnostic challenge at times. Further research is needed to identify potentially useful markers to provide better diagnostic utility when evaluating lymph node biopsies in patients with melanoma.
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