Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 597–608 | Cite as

A Sentinel Node Biopsy Does Not Increase the Incidence of In-Transit Metastasis in Patients With Primary Cutaneous Melanoma

  • Daan van Poll
  • John F. Thompson
  • Marjorie H. Colman
  • J. Gregory McKinnon
  • Robyn P. M. Saw
  • Jonathan R. Stretch
  • Richard A. Scolyer
  • Roger F. Uren



It has been suggested that performing a sentinel node biopsy (SNB) in patients with cutaneous melanoma increases the incidence of in-transit metastasis (ITM).


ITM rates for 2018 patients with primary melanomas ≥1.0 mm thick treated at a single institution between 1991 and 2000 according to 3 protocols were compared: wide local excision (WLE) only (n = 1035), WLE plus SNB (n = 754), and WLE plus elective lymph node dissection (n = 229).


The incidence of ITM for the three protocols was 4.9%, 3.6%, and 5.7%, respectively (not significant), and as a first site of recurrent disease the incidence was 2.5%, 2.4%, and 4.4%, respectively (not significant). The subset of patients who were node positive after SNB and after elective lymph node dissection also had similar ITM rates (10.8% and 7.1%, respectively; P = .11). On multivariate analysis, primary tumor thickness and patient age predicted ITM as a first recurrence, but type of treatment did not. Patients who underwent WLE only and who had a subsequent therapeutic lymph node dissection (n = 149) had an ITM rate of 24.2%, compared with 10.8% in patients with a tumor-positive sentinel node treated with immediate dissection (n = 102; P = .03).


Performing an SNB in patients with melanoma treated by WLE does not increase the incidence of ITM.


Melanoma In-transit metastasis Recurrence Sentinel node Regional lymph node. 



Supported by the Melanoma Foundation of the University of Sydney. D.v.P. was a Sydney Melanoma Unit research student supported by the Dutch Cancer Foundation (Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds), the Dutch Skin Foundation (Stichting Nederlands Huidfonds), and the Dutch Society for Physics and Medical Science (Nederlands Genootschap voor Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde). J.G.M. was a Sydney Melanoma Unit research fellow supported by the Walter C. MacKenzie-Scotiabank Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daan van Poll
    • 1
  • John F. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marjorie H. Colman
    • 1
  • J. Gregory McKinnon
    • 1
  • Robyn P. M. Saw
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan R. Stretch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard A. Scolyer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Roger F. Uren
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Sydney Melanoma Unit, Sydney Cancer CentreRoyal Prince Alfred HospitalCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of SurgeryThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Anatomical PathologyRoyal Prince Alfred HospitalCamperdownAustralia
  4. 4.Discipline of MedicineThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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