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Eur J Surg Oncol. 2017 Mar;43(3):544-560. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

Diagnosis and treatment of in-transit melanoma metastases.

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Divisione di Chirurgia Dermatoncologica, Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, Milano, Italy. Electronic address:
Dermatologia, Dipartimentto di Scienze mediche, Università di Torino, Italy.
West Herts NHS Trust, London, UK; Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, Northwood, UK.


In transit metastases (ITM) from extremity or trunk melanomas are subcutaneous or cutaneous lymphatic deposits of melanoma cells, distant from the primary site but not reaching the draining nodal basin. Superficial ITM metastases develop in 5-10% of melanoma patients and are thought to be caused by cells spreading along lymphatics; ITM appear biologically different from distant cutaneous metastases, these probably due to a haematogenous dissemination. The diagnosis is usually clinical and by patients, but patients need to be adequately educated in the recognition of this clinical situation. Ultrasound or more sophisticated instrumental devices may be required if the disease develops more deeply in the soft tissues. According to AJCC 2009 staging classification, ITM are included in stages IIIb and IIIc, which are considered local advanced disease with quite poor 5-year survival rates and outcomes of 24-54% at 5 years.2 Loco-regional recurrence is in fact an important risk factor for distant metastatic disease, either synchronous or metachronous. Therapy for this pattern of recurrence is less standardised then in most other clinical situations and options vary based on the volume and site of the disease. Definitive surgical resection remains the preferred therapeutic approach. However, when surgery cannot be performed with a reasonable cosmetic and functional outcome, other options must be utilized.3-6 Treatment options are classified as local, regional or systemic. The choice of therapy depends on the number of lesions, their anatomic location, whether or not these are dermal or subcutaneous, the size and the presence or absence of extra-regional disease.


Electrochemotherapy; In-transit metastases; Intra-lesional treatment; Isolated limb infusion; Isolated limb perfusion; Melanoma

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