Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Surg. 1993 Sep;218(3):262-7; discussion 267-9.

Efficacy of 2-cm surgical margins for intermediate-thickness melanomas (1 to 4 mm). Results of a multi-institutional randomized surgical trial.

Author information

  • 1University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.



A prospective, multi-institutional, randomized surgical trial involving 486 localized melanoma patients was conducted to determine whether excision margins for intermediate-thickness melanomas (1.0 to 4.0 mm) could be safely reduced from the standard 4-cm radius.


Patients with 1- to 4-mm-thick melanomas on the trunk or proximal extremities were randomly assigned to receive either a 2- or 4-cm surgical margin.


The median follow-up time was 6 years. The local recurrence rate was 0.8% for 2-cm margins and 1.7% for 4-cm margins (p value not significant [NS]). The rates of in-transit metastases were 2.1% and 2.5%, respectively (p = NS). Of the six patients with local recurrences, five have died. Recurrence rates did not correlate with surgical margins, even among stratified thickness groups. The overall 5-year survival rate was 79.5% for the 2-cm margin patients and 83.7% for the 4-cm margin patients (p = NS). The need for skin grafting was reduced from 46% with 4-cm surgical margins to 11% with 2-cm surgical margins (p < 0.001). The hospital stay was shortened from 7.0 days for patients receiving 4-cm surgical margins to 5.2 days for those receiving 2-cm margins (p = 0.0001). This reduction was largely due to reduced need for skin grafting, since the hospital stay for those who had a skin graft was 2.5 days longer than that for those who had a primary wound closure (p < 0.01).


Margins of excision can be safely reduced to 2 cm for patients with intermediate-thickness melanomas. The narrower margins significantly reduced the need for skin grafting and shortened the hospital stay.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center