BACKGROUND: Lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has been developed as a minimally invasive technique to determine the pathologic status of regional lymph nodes in patients without clinically palpable disease and incorporated in the latest version of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system for cutaneous melanoma. OBJECTIVE: To analyze the results of SLNB and the prognostic value of the micrometastases and the pattern of early recurrences in patients according to sentinel lymph node (SLN) status. METHOD: Patients with cutaneous melanoma in stages I and II (AJCC 2002) who underwent lymphatic mapping and SLNB from 1997 to 2003 were included in a prospective database for analysis. RESULTS: The rate of identification of the SLN was 100%. Micrometastases to SLN were found in 20.8% of patients. The rate of SLN micrometastases increased according to Breslow thickness and clinical stage. Breslow thickness of 0.99 mm was the optimal cutpoint for predicting the SLNB result. Twenty-four patients (12.3%) developed a locoregional or distant recurrence at a median follow-up of 31 months. Recurrences were more frequent in patients with a positive SLN. Among patients who had a recurrence, those with a positive SLN were more likely to have distant metastases than those with negative SLN. Nodal recurrences were more frequent in patients with a negative SLN compared with those with a positive SLN. CONCLUSIONS: The status of the SLN provides accurate staging for identifying patients who may benefit from further therapy and is the most important prognostic factor of relapse-free survival.
|Issue number||11 Pt 1|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2005|