Recent Evolution in the Management of Lymph Node Metastases in Melanoma


  • Shelby Breit, MS-3
  • Elise Foley, MS-3
  • Elizabeth Ablah, Ph.D., MPH
  • Hayrettin Okut, Ph.D.
  • Joshua Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., FACS



Melanoma, Lymph Node, CLND, SLNB, neoplasm, outcome


Introduction. Based upon two large randomized international clinical trials (German Dermatologic Cooperative Oncology Group (DeCOG-SLT) and Multicenter Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial II (MSLT-II)) which were published in 2016 and 2017, respectively, active surveillance has been demonstrated to have equivalent survival outcomes to completion lymphadenectomy (CLND) for a subset of patients who have microscopic lymph node disease. In this study, we examined the changes in national practice patterns regarding the utilization of CLND after positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB).

Methods. Using the National Cancer Database, we examined CLND utilization in SLN-positive patients diagnosed with melanoma between 2012 and 2016. A hierarchal logistical regression model with hospital-level random intercepts was constructed to examine the factors associated with SLNB followed by observation vs. SLNB with CLND.

Results. Of the 148,982 patients identified, 43% (n = 63,358) underwent SLNB, and 10.3% (n = 6,551) had a SLNB with microscopic disease. CLND was performed for 57% (n = 2,817) of these patients. Patients were more likely to undergo CLND if they were < 55 years of age (OR, 0.687;  p = <0.0001), ages 56 - 65 (OR, 0.886; p = 0.0237), Charlson Deyo Score = 0 (OR, 0.859; p = 0.0437), or were diagnosed with melanoma in 2012 (OR, 0.794, p = <0.0001).

Conclusions. We found the utilization of CLND among patients with microscopic nodal melanoma to be significantly lower in 2016 compared to 2012. Younger age, lack of comorbidities, and primary tumor location on the trunk or head/neck were associated with higher utilization of CLND.






Original Research