Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 1012–1018 | Cite as

Predictors and Survival Impact of False-Negative Sentinel Nodes in Melanoma

  • David Y. Lee
  • Kelly T. Huynh
  • Annabelle Teng
  • Briana J. Lau
  • Sarah Vitug
  • Ji-Hey Lee
  • Stacey L. Stern
  • Leland J. Foshag
  • Mark B. Faries



The status of the sentinel lymph node in melanoma is an important prognostic factor. The clinical predictors and implications of false-negative (FN) biopsy remain debatable.


We compared patients with positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNB) [true positive (TP)] and negative SNB with and without regional recurrence [FN, true negative (TN)] from our prospective institutional database.


Among 2986 patients (84 FN, 494 TP, and 2408 TN; median follow-up 93 months), the incidence of FN-SNB was 2.8 %. While calculated FN rate was 14.5 % [84 FN/(494 TP + 84 FN) × 100], when we accounted for local/in-transit recurrence (LITR) this rate was 8.5 % [46 FN/(494 TP + 46 FN) × 100 %]. On multivariate analysis, male gender (OR 2.0, 95 % CI 1.1–3.6, p = 0.018), head/neck primaries (OR 2.5, 95 % CI 1.3–4.8, p < 0.006), and LITR (OR 3.5, 95 % CI 2.1–5.8, p < 0.001) were associated with FN-SNB. Melanoma-specific survival (MSS) for the FN group was similar to the TP group at 5 years (68 vs. 73 %, p = 0.539). However, MSS declined more for the FN group with a longer follow up and was significantly worse at 10 years (44 vs. 64 %, p < 0.001). On multivariate analysis, FN-SNB was a significant predictor of worse MSS in melanomas <4 mm in Breslow thickness (HR 1.6; 95 % CI 1.1–2.5, p = 0.021).


Male gender, LITR, and head and neck tumors were associated with FN-SNB. FN-SNB was an independent predictor of worse MSS in melanomas <4 mm in thickness, but this survival difference did not become apparent until after 5 years of follow-up.


Melanoma Sentinel Lymph Node Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy True Positive Regional Recurrence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported by the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G Adelson Medical Research Foundation (Boston, MA), the Borstein Family Foundation (Los Angeles, CA), the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary (Santa Monica, CA), Mr. George W. Ogden, and Mr. John E. Connor. The authors are grateful to Gwen Berry for editorial assistance. This project was supported by grants R01 CA189163 from the National Cancer Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.


Dr. M. B. Faries has served as a consultant for Amgen Inc, Astellas Pharma Inc, and Genentech Inc. All other authors have no financial disclosure. Dr. D.Y. Lee is the Harold McAlister Charitable Foundation Fellow.

Supplementary material

10434_2015_4912_MOESM1_ESM.docx (201 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 201 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Y. Lee
    • 1
  • Kelly T. Huynh
    • 1
  • Annabelle Teng
    • 2
  • Briana J. Lau
    • 1
  • Sarah Vitug
    • 3
  • Ji-Hey Lee
    • 4
  • Stacey L. Stern
    • 4
  • Leland J. Foshag
    • 1
  • Mark B. Faries
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgical OncologyThe John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence St. John’s Health CenterSanta MonicaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryMount Sinai, St-Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Ochsner Clinical School, University of Queensland School of MedicineSaint LuciaAustralia
  4. 4.Department of BiostatisticsThe John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence St. John’s Health CenterSanta MonicaUSA

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