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Ann Surg. 1983 Jul;198(1):65-9.

Local and in-transit metastases following definitive excision for primary cutaneous malignant melanoma.


A total of 672 consecutive patients with clinical stage I and stage II primary cutaneous malignant melanoma were treated by excision of 3.0 to 5.0 cm of surrounding skin down to and including the underlying fascia when the lesion exceeded 0.5 mm thickness (Breslow measurement). More conservative margins were taken in locations where such excisions would result in significant cosmetic or functional morbidity and for thinner lesions (less than 0.5 mm). Seven of 658 patients with clinical stage I disease (1.1%) and three of 14 patients with clinical stage II disease (21.4%) developed histologically verified local metastases within 5 cm of the primary excision scar or skin graft. Fifteen patients with stage I disease developed in-transit metastases (2.3%) at a site more than 5.0 cm proximal to the surgical scar or skin graft but not beyond the regional nodal group. Two patients with stage II disease who had developed local metastases also developed in-transit metastases (14.3%). No patient with a lesion less than 1.0 mm thick has had a local recurrence. Nine of the ten patients (90%) who developed local metastases and 12 of the 17 patients (70.6%) who developed in-transit metastases have also developed systemic metastases to date. Local and in-transit metastases following such definitive excision is a significant indicator of disseminated systemic metastatic melanoma.

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