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Cancer. 2009 Nov 1;115(21):5026-37. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24298.

Interobserver reproducibility of histologic parameters of melanoma deposits in sentinel lymph nodes: implications for management of patients with melanoma.

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Department of Anatomical Pathology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.



: Histologic parameters of melanoma deposits in sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) have been shown to be predictive of clinical outcome and the presence or absence of tumor in non-SLNs, but assessment of these parameters is prone to interobserver variation.


: Histologic sections of 44 SLNs containing metastatic melanoma were examined by 7 pathologists. Parameters assessed included cross-sectional area of tumor deposits, cross-sectional area of SLNs, percentage of SLN area involved by tumor calculated from the 2 previous parameters, estimated percentage of SLN area involved by tumor, tumor penetrative depth, location of tumor within the SLN, and presence of extracapsular spread. Levels of interobserver agreement were measured by using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC).


: There was good to excellent interobserver agreement on measurement of quantitative parameters: maximal size of largest tumor deposits, calculated area of 3 largest tumor deposits, percentage of the area of SLN involved by tumor, and tumor penetrative depth (ICC, 0.88, 0.73, 0.68, and 0.83, respectively). There was moderate agreement on the evaluation of subcapsular versus nonsubcapsular location of tumor deposits (ICC = 0.50). Agreement on assessment of extracapsular spread was fair (ICC = 0.39).


: Assessment of some of the quantitative parameters was highly reproducible between pathologists. However, evaluation of the location of tumor deposits within SLNs and assessment of extracapsular spread was less reproducible. Clearer definitions and training can be expected to improve the reproducibility of assessment. These results have important implications for reliability and reproducibility of these parameters in staging, prediction of outcome, and clinical management of melanoma patients. Cancer 2009. (c) 2009 American Cancer Society.

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