Treatment of Clinically Positive Cervical Lymph Nodes by Limited Local Node Excision and Adjuvant Radiotherapy in Melanoma Patients with Major Comorbidities
When cervical lymph nodes are clinically positive for metastatic melanoma, surgeons may be hesitant to recommend a therapeutic complete lymph node dissection if the patient is elderly or has major comorbidities. A limited local node excision of the clinically positive nodes only, followed by adjuvant radiotherapy to the entire node field, may be an effective alternative in such patients.
All patients who had presented with a primary head and neck melanoma or an unknown primary site and had subsequently undergone limited local node excision and adjuvant radiotherapy for macroscopically involved cervical nodes between 1993 and 2010 at a tertiary referral center were selected for study.
Twenty-eight patients were identified, with a median age of 78 years and a median of 2 major comorbidities. The 5-year regional control, disease-free survival, and overall survival rates were 69%, 44%, and 50%, respectively. At the time of data analysis, seven patients were alive without evidence of disease. Twenty-one patients had died: 11 of melanoma (4 with neck recurrence) and 10 of other causes (2 with neck recurrence).
Excision of clinically positive metastatic cervical lymph nodes followed by radiotherapy provides satisfactory regional disease control without risking serious morbidity or mortality in melanoma patients whose general condition is considered a contraindication for therapeutic complete lymph node dissection.
Funding was provided by Sydney Medical School Foundation.
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