Is a History of Optimal Staging by Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in the Era Prior to Adjuvant Therapy Associated with Improved Outcome Once Melanoma Patients have Progressed to Advanced Disease?

Blankenstein SA, Bonenkamp JJ, Aarts MJB, van den Berkmortel FWPJ, Blank CU, Blokx WAM, Boers-Sonderen MJ, van den Eertwegh AJM, Franken MG, de Groot JWB, Haanen JBAG, Hospers GAP, Kapiteijn EW, van Not OJ, Piersma D, van Rijn RS, Suijkerbuijk KPM, van der Veldt AAM, Vreugdenhil G, Westgeest HM, Wouters MWJM, van Akkooi ACJ. Ann Surg Oncol. 2022 Oct 6. doi: 10.1245/s10434-022-12600-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36203067.

Abstract

Introduction: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is important for staging in patients with primary cutaneous melanoma. Did having previously undergone SLNB also affect outcomes in patients once they have progressed to metastatic melanoma in the era prior to adjuvant therapy?

Methods: Data were retrieved from the Dutch Melanoma Treatment Registry, a prospectively collected, nationwide database of patients with unresectable stage IIIC or IV (advanced) melanoma between 2012 and 2018. Melanoma-specific survival (MSS) was compared between patients with advanced cutaneous melanoma, previously treated with a wide local excision (WLE) or WLE combined with SLNB as initial treatment of their primary tumor. Cox regression analyses were used to analyze the influence of different variables on MSS.

Results: In total, 2581 patients were included, of whom 1412 were treated with a WLE of the primary tumor alone and 1169 in whom this was combined with SLNB. At a median follow-up of 44 months from diagnosis of advanced melanoma, MSS was significantly longer in patients who had previously undergone SLNB {median 23 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 19-29) vs. 18 months (95% CI 15-20) for patients treated with WLE alone; p = 0.002}. However, multivariate Cox regression did not identify SLNB as an independent favorable prognostic factor for MSS after diagnosis of advanced melanoma.

Conclusion: Prior to the availability of adjuvant systemic therapy, once patients have unresectable stage IIIC or IV (advanced) melanoma, there was no difference in disease outcome for patients who were or were not previously staged with SLNB.

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