For patients with stage III melanoma with occult lymph node metastasis, the use of adjuvant therapy is increasing, and completion lymph node dissection (CLND) is decreasing. We sought to evaluate the use of modern adjuvant therapy and outcomes for patients with stage III melanoma who did not undergo CLND.
Patients with a positive SLNB from 2015 to 2020 who did not undergo CLND were evaluated retrospectively. Nodal recurrence, recurrence-free survival (RFS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), and melanoma-specific survival were evaluated.
Among 90 patients, 56 (62%) received adjuvant therapy and 34 (38%) underwent observation alone. Patients who received adjuvant therapy were younger (mean age: 53 vs. 65, p < 0.001) and had higher overall stage (Stage IIIb/c 75% vs. 54%, p = 0.041). Disease recurred in 12 of 34 patients (35%) in the observation group and 11 of 56 patients (20%) in the adjuvant therapy group. The most common first site of recurrence was distant recurrence alone (5/34 patients) in the observation group and nodal recurrence alone (8/90 patients) in the adjuvant therapy group. Despite more adverse nodal features in the adjuvant therapy group, 24-month nodal recurrence rate and RFS were not significantly different between the adjuvant and observation cohorts (nodal recurrence rate: 26% vs. 20%, p = 0.68; RFS: 75% vs. 61%, p = 0.39). Among patients with stage IIIb/c disease, adjuvant therapy was associated with a significantly improved 24-month DMFS (86% vs. 59%, p = 0.04).
In this early report, modern adjuvant therapy in patients who forego CLND is associated with longer DMFS among patients with stage IIIb/c disease.
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Torphy, R.J., Friedman, C., Ho, F. et al. Adjuvant Therapy for Stage III Melanoma Without Immediate Completion Lymph Node Dissection. Ann Surg Oncol 29, 806–815 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1245/s10434-021-10775-8