A survey of surgical management of the sentinel node positive melanoma patient in the post-MSLT2 era.

Downs JS, Subramaniam S, Henderson MA, Paton E, Spillane AJ, Mathy JA, Gyorki DE. J Surg Oncol. (Epub 18 Aug 2021)


Background: The evidence-based management of melanoma patients with a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has undergone a dramatic shift following publication of practice-changing surgical trials demonstrating no melanoma-specific survival advantage for completion lymph node dissection (CLND) in this scenario. We aimed to survey how surgeons’ clinical practice had shifted in response to new evidence from these trials, and at a time when there was starting to become available systemic adjuvant treatments for AJCC Stage III melanoma patients.

Methods: A web-based survey consisting of practice-based questions and hypothetical clinical scenarios about current melanoma practice with regard to positive sentinel node biopsy was developed and sent to the surgical members of a Melanoma and Skin Cancer (MASC) Trials group in December 2018. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistics.

Results: There were 212 invitations sent and 65 respondents (31%). Respondents were from 17 countries, 94% of whom practice in specialist melanoma centres or at referral centres. Of these 97% were familiar with the MSLT2 and DeCOG-SLT clinical trials. At survey, 5% of respondents reported routinely recommending CLND and 55% recommend CLND in selected cases. Respondents were most likely to recommend CLND when multiple SLNs were positive. Important factors for surgical decision-making mentioned included size of SLN deposit, number of positive SLNs and likely compliance with the recommended surveillance regimen.

Conclusion: In line with rapid adoption of published evidence, surgical management of Stage III melanoma has altered significantly, with few surgeons within the cohort now performing routine CLNDs after positive SLNB.