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J Pediatr Surg. 2005 Jun;40(6):988-92; discussion 992.

Survival in sentinel lymph node-positive pediatric melanoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.



Sentinel lymph node (SLN) status is the strongest predictor of survival in adult melanoma. However, the prognostic value of SLN status in children and adolescents with melanoma is unknown.


Records of 327 patients aged 12 to 86 years undergoing SLN biopsy for melanoma or other melanocytic lesions were reviewed. A literature search identified additional patients younger than 21 years undergoing SLN biopsy for the same indications and these patients were combined with our series for meta-analysis.


Sentinel lymph node metastases were found in 8 (40%) of 20 patients aged 12 to 20 years compared with 55 (18%) of 307 adults (P < .05). Median follow-up was 35 and 17 months for the groups, respectively. Sentinel lymph node-positive pediatric patients did not recur, whereas 14 (25%) adults recurred within this period. Of the 55 adults, 5 (9.1%) have died of disease. Of the combined SLN-positive children and adolescents from the literature (total n = 25), only a single (4%) child recurred at 6 months. The difference in survival for adult and pediatric patients was significant.


Pediatric patients have a higher incidence of SLN metastases than adults yet have a lower incidence of recurrence. Sentinel lymph node status does not predict early recurrence in pediatric patients with melanoma or atypical Spitz nevi.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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