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      Incidence of sentinel node metastasis in patients with thin primary melanoma (< or = 1 mm) with vertical growth phase.

      Annals of Surgical Oncology

      Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Biopsy, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Lymph Node Excision, Lymph Nodes, pathology, radionuclide imaging, Lymphatic Metastasis, diagnosis, Male, Melanoma, surgery, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Staging, Prognosis, Skin Neoplasms

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          Patients with thin primary melanomas (< or = 1 mm) generally have an excellent prognosis. However, the presence of a vertical growth phase (VGP) adversely impacts the survival rate. We report on the rate of occurrence of nodal metastasis in patients with thin primary melanomas with a VGP who are offered sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy. Among 235 patients with clinically localized cutaneous melanomas who underwent successful SLN biopsy, 71 had lesions 1 mm or smaller with a VGP. The SLN was localized by using blue dye and a radiotracer. If negative for tumor by using hematoxylin and eosin staining, the SLN was further examined by immunohistochemistry. The rate of occurrence of SLN metastasis was 15.2% in patients with melanomas deeper than 1 mm and 5.6% in patients with thin melanomas. Three patients with thin melanomas and a positive SLN had low-risk lesions, based on a highly accurate six-variable multivariate logistic regression model for predicting 8-year survival in stage I/II melanomas. The fourth patient had a low- to intermediate-risk lesion based on this model. At the time of the lymphadenectomy, one patient had two additional nodes with metastasis. VGP in a melanoma 1 mm or smaller seems to be a risk factor for nodal metastasis. The risk of nodal disease may not be accurately predicted by the use of a multivariate logistic regression model that incorporates thickness, mitotic rate, regression, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, sex, and anatomical site. Patients with thin lesions having VGP should be evaluated for SLN biopsy and trials of adjuvant therapy when stage III disease is found.

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