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Annals of surgical oncology : the official journal of the Society of Surgical Oncology


Age Factors; False Negative Reactions; Female; Humans; Lymphatic Metastasis; Male; Melanoma; Middle Aged; Prognosis; Retrospective Studies; Sentinel Lymph Node; Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy; Skin Neoplasms; Skin Ulcer; Survival Rate; Torso; Tumor Burden


BACKGROUND: Although only a small proportion of thin melanomas result in lymph node metastasis, the abundance of these lesions results in a relatively large absolute number of patients with a diagnosis of nodal metastases, determined by either sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy or clinical nodal recurrence (CNR).

METHODS: Independent cohorts with thin melanoma and either SLN metastasis or CNR were identified at two melanoma referral centers. At both centers, SLN metastasis patients were included. At center 1, the CNR cohort included patients with initial negative clinical nodal evaluation followed by CNR. At center 2, the CNR cohort was restricted to those presenting in the era before the use of SLN biopsy. Uni- and multivariable analyses of melanoma-specific survival (MSS) were performed.

RESULTS: At center 1, 427 CNR patients were compared with 91 SLN+ patients. The 5- and 10-year survival rates in the SLN group were respectively 88 and 84 % compared with 72 and 49 % in the CNR group (p < 0.0001). The multivariate analysis showed age older than 50 years (hazard ratio [HR] 1.5; 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.2-1.9), present ulceration (HR 1.9; 95 % CI 1.2-2.9), unknown ulceration (HR 1.6; 95 % CI 1.3-2.1), truncal site (HR 1.6; 95 % CI 1.2-2.2), and CNR (HR 3.3; 95 % CI 1.8-6.0) to be associated significantly with decreased MSS (p < 0.01 for each). The center 2 cohort demonstrated remarkably similar findings, with a 5-year MSS of 88 % in the SLN (n = 29) group and 76 % in the CNR group (n = 39, p = 0.09).

CONCLUSION: Patients with nodal metastases from thin melanomas have a substantial risk of melanoma death. This risk is lower among patients whose disease is discovered by SLN biopsy rather than CNR.

Clinical Institute