, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 376-383

Efficacy of hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion for extremity-confined recurrent melanoma

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Background: Recurrent melanoma of the extremity has been treated by local excision, systemic chemotherapy, amputation, or a combination of these approaches. Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion (HILP) provides a method of limb preservation through isolation, allowing the administration of chemotherapy in higher doses than is possible through systemic treatment.

Methods: An experimental group of 59 HILP patients with melanoma recurrences of the extremity was studied prospectively. A control group of 248 melanoma patients with similar recurrences was excluded from HILP because their recurrences were in non-extremity locations. The experimental group underwent HILP and excision; the control group had excision only. The experimental procedure consisted of vascular isolation of the affected extremity and a 1-hour perfusion with melphalan. Temperatures were maintained at 40°C in the perfusion circuit.

Results: The HILP patients had a lower rate of locoregional recurrence (P=.028) and demonstrated increased survival (P=.026) compared to the control group. In multivariate regression analysis, which included age, ulceration and thickness of the primary, and the treatment variable of perfusion, age (P=.02) and perfusion for the treatment of recurrence (P=.006) were significant predictors of survival.

Conclusions: HILP improves prognosis by sterilizing the treated extremity, controlling locoregional disease, and perhaps preventing metastasis, thus having a positive impact on overall survival.

Presented at the 50th Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology, Chicago, Illinois, March 20–23, 1997.