, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1566-1576

Complete Lymph Node Dissection for Sentinel Node-Positive Melanoma: Assessment of Practice Patterns in the United States

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Currently, complete lymph node dissection (CLND) is recommended after identification of a metastatic lymph node by sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). Guidelines suggest that CLND should be performed as a separate procedure, and a sufficient number of nodes should be examined. Our objective was to examine the utilization, timing, and adequacy of CLND for melanoma in the United States.


From the National Cancer Data Base, patients diagnosed with stage I to III melanoma during 2004–2005 were identified. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with CLND utilization, timing (separate operation from SLNB), and adequacy (examination of ≥10 nodes).


Of the 44,548 patients identified, 47.5% were pathologic stage IA, 23.8% stage IB, 14.1% stage II, and 14.6% stage III. Of the 17% (2942 of 17,524) with nodal metastases on SLNB, only 50% underwent a CLND. Patients were significantly less likely to undergo a CLND after SLNB if >75 years old or had lower extremity melanomas. Of the patients who underwent a CLND, only 42% underwent the CLND at a separate procedure after the SLNB. Of those who underwent a CLND, 69.2% had ≥10 nodes examined. Patients were significantly less likely to have ≥10 nodes examined if they were >75 years old or had lower extremity melanomas. Patients treated at NCCN/NCI-designated centers were significantly more likely to undergo nodal evaluation in concordance with established guidelines.


Only half of patients with sentinel node-positive melanoma underwent CLND. Quality surveillance measures are needed to monitor, standardize, and improve the care of patients with malignant melanoma.

Presented in part at the Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Meeting, March 14, 2008, Chicago, IL.