Breslow, Alexander (1928–1980)
Date, Country, and City of Birth
March 23, 1928. New York, NY, USA
Date and City of Death
July 20, 1980, New York, NY, USA
History of Life
Alexander Breslow was born in New York City in 1928. For his undergraduate and medical training, he went to the University of Chicago where he graduated as an MD in 1953. Subsequently he did an internship with the US public health service in Baltimore, followed by a period of postgraduate training at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. He served his residency in pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. After an instructorship in pathology at the University of Washington in Seattle, he joined in 1961 the staff of the pathology department of the George Washington University School of Medicine. Here he became a full professor in 1974 and director of the division of anatomical pathology in 1979, the year before his death.
Breslow was a respected member of many pathology societies such as the IAP, the American Association of Pathologists, the American Association of Clinical Pathology, the College of American Pathologists, and the Washington Society of Pathologists, of which he was a president.
He served on the WHO melanoma group and other international health agencies developing guidelines for dissection of regional lymph nodes.
He died of cancer on July 20, 1980, at the age of 52 years.
Main Achievements to Medicine/Pathology
Alexander Breslow is especially known for this melanoma grading. In fact his first paper on melanomas had made him famous. He published this article in the Annals of Surgery in November 1970 as: “Thickness, cross-sectional areas and depth of invasion in the prognosis of cutaneous melanoma,” a retrospective study of 98 patients, initially all free of recurrent or metastatic disease. Following operation 71 remained free of disease for 5 or more years, while 27 developed metastasis or recurrent disease. He divided the thickness in five groups, less than 0.76 mm, 0.76–1.51 mm, 0.51–2.26 mm, 2.26–3.00 mm, and >3 mm. No melanoma with a thickness less than 0.76 mm recurred or metastasized. Others showed increasing risk. Although he studied all parameters in this group, he concluded that thickness and stage of invasion are important in evaluating prognosis: “By combining these two criteria it was possible to identify a group of 45 patients only one of whom developed recurrent or metastatic disease. These criteria may be of value in selecting patients for prophylactic lymph node dissection.”
Until the end of his life he would continue to add new information about melanoma behavior and prognosis, the last one in 1980, the year of his death.
References and Further Readings
- Breslow, A., & Macht, S. D. (1977). Optimal size of resection margin for thin cutaneous melanoma. Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics, 145, 691–692.Google Scholar