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Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Recurrent Melanoma: A Multicenter Study



Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is routinely performed for primary cutaneous melanomas; however, limited data exist for SLNB after locally recurrent (LR) or in-transit (IT) melanoma.


Data from three centers performing SLNB for LR/IT melanoma (1997 to the present) were reviewed, with the aim of assessing (1) success rate; (2) SLNB positivity; and (3) prognostic value of SLNB in this population.


The study cohort included 107 patients. Management of the primary melanoma included prior SLNB for 56 patients (52%), of whom 10 (18%) were positive and 12 had complete lymph node dissections (CLNDs). In the present study, SLNB was performed for IT disease (48/107, 45%) or LR melanoma (59/107, 55%). A sentinel lymph node (SLN) was removed in 96% (103/107) of cases. Nodes were not removed for four patients due to lymphoscintigraphy failures (2) or nodes not found during surgery (2). SLNB was positive in 41 patients (40%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 31.5–50.5), of whom 35 (88%) had CLND, with 13 (37%) having positive nonsentinel nodes. Median time to disease progression after LR/IT metastasis was 1.4 years (95% CI 0.75–2.0) for patients with a positive SLNB, and 5.9 years (95% CI 1.7–10.2) in SLNB-negative patients (p = 0.18). There was a trend towards improved overall survival for patients with a negative SLNB (p = 0.06).


SLNB can be successful in patients with LR/IT melanoma, even if prior SLNB was performed. In this population, the rates of SLNB positivity and nonsentinel node metastases were 40% and 37%, respectively. SLNB may guide management and prognosis after LR/IT disease.

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This study was supported in part by University of Virginia grant T32 CA163177 from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (Yinin Hu).

Conflicts of interest

Georgia M. Beasley, Yinin Hu, Linda Youngwirth, Randall P. Scheri, April Salama, Kara Rossfeld, Syed Gardezi, Doreen Agnese, J. Harrison Howard, Douglas Tyler, Craig L. Slingluff Jr, and Alicia Terando have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Correspondence to Georgia M. Beasley MD.

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Beasley, G.M., Hu, Y., Youngwirth, L. et al. Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Recurrent Melanoma: A Multicenter Study. Ann Surg Oncol 24, 2728–2733 (2017).

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  • Melanoma
  • Sentinel Lymph Node
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Ipilimumab
  • Primary Melanoma