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Eur J Cancer. 2005 Mar;41(4):531-8. Epub 2005 Jan 7.

Sentinel lymphonodectomy does not increase the risk of loco-regional cutaneous metastases of malignant melanomas.

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Department of Dermatology, Georg August University of Göttingen, v. Siebold-Str. 3, D-37075, Göttingen, Germany.


With regard to malignant melanoma, the impact of lymph node surgery on the development of loco-regional cutaneous metastases (LCM) has not yet been adequately addressed. However, this aspect is of interest, since sentinel lymphonodectomy (SLNE) has been suspected of causing LCM by inducing entrapment of melanoma cells. We analysed 244 patients with SLNE and compared the data with 199 patients treated with delayed lymph node dissection (DLND) for clinically palpable metastases. Analysis of both groups commenced at the time of excision of the primary tumour, using the Kaplan-Meier method. LCM that appeared as a first recurrence, as well as the overall probability of developing LCM, were recorded. For sentinel-negative patients with a primary melanoma >1mm thick, the 5-year probability of developing LCM as a first recurrence was 6.9 +/- 0.02% (+/-standard error of the mean (SEM)). The probability was 17.6 +/- 0.03% in the DLND group. Comparing the two node-positive subgroups, the probability of developing LCM as a first recurrence was significantly higher in patients with positive SLNE (27.3 +/- 0.05%, P = 0.03). However, the 5-year overall probability of developing LCM did not differ significantly in the node-positive groups (33.3% in the DLND group vs. 33.7% in patients with positive sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs)). Since early excision of lymphatic metastases by SLNE avoids nodal recurrences, thereby prolonging the recurrence-free interval, the chance of LCM to manifest as a first recurrence should inevitably increase. However, the overall in-transit probability is not increased after SLNE.

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