, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 514-520
Date: 14 Sep 2010

Sentinel Node Dissection Delays Recurrence and Prolongs Melanoma-Related Survival: An Analysis of 673 Patients from a Single Center with Long-Term Follow-Up

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Abstract

Background

The status of the sentinel lymph node is an important predictor for survival in melanoma patients, but it is still unclear if early removal of micrometastases by sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) alters survival. A large series of melanoma patients from a single center with long-term follow-up was analyzed with regard to a possible effect of SLND on the prognosis.

Materials and Methods

A total of 673 consecutive melanoma patients were assessed treated in our center either without SLND (377 patients, pre-SLN group, between January 1995 and March 2000) or with SLND (296 patients, SLN group, between April 2000 and March 2003). The median follow-up was 64.0 months in the pre-SLN and 72.5 months in the SLN group.

Results

The pre-SLN group and SLN group did not differ significantly with regard to characteristics of the primary melanoma thickness and ulceration, sex, and age. Kaplan–Meier analyses showed a significantly better recurrence-free survival (P < .001), distant metastases free survival (P = .006), and overall survival (P = .049) for patients of the SLN group; the 5-year melanoma-specific survival rates were 80.3% in pre-SLN patients and 84.8% in SLN patients. Initial metastases in the in-transit region and distant locations were of similar frequency in the pre-SLN and SLN groups (P = .191 and P = .959, respectively), but initial regional lymph node metastases were significantly more frequent in the pre-SLN group (P < .001).

Conclusions

Our data point toward a subgroup of melanoma patients who might have a prognostic benefit from SLN.