Patterns of First-Recurrence and Post-recurrence Survival in Patients with Primary Cutaneous Melanoma After Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
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Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has become well accepted in management of patients with primary cutaneous melanoma. An understanding of the pattern of recurrence after SLNB is helpful in coordinating a rational plan of follow-up in these patients. We sought to determine the site and timing of initial recurrence and post-recurrence survival after SLNB.
Stage I/II melanoma patients who underwent SLNB during 1991–2004 were identified from a prospective single-institution database. Site and date of first recurrence after SLNB were recorded. Patterns of recurrence after SLNB and post-recurrence survival were analyzed.
One thousand and forty-six patients underwent SLNB. The sentinel lymph node (SLN) was positive in 164 patients (16%). Median follow-up was 36 months for survivors. Median and 3-year relapse-free survival for SLN-positive patients were 41 months and 56%, and for SLN-negative patients were not reached and 87%, respectively (P < .0001). Of the SLN-positive patients, 47% experienced recurrence, compared with 14% SLN-negative patients. The pattern of recurrence stratified by SLN status was similar between the two groups (P = NS). After recurrence, the site of recurrence was the only significant prognostic factor influencing survival (P < .0001).
Although SLN-positive patients experience recurrence far earlier and more frequently than SLN-negative patients, the pattern of recurrence is similar. After recurrence, its site is the primary determinant of survival.
KeywordsMelanoma Recurrence Sentinel lymph node biopsy Post-recurrence survival
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