Treatment and Outcomes of Melanoma with a Breslow's Depth Greater Than or Equal to One Millimeter in a Regional Teaching Hospital

Scott, John D.; McKinley, Brian P.; Bishop, Aundie; Trocha, Steven D.
March 2005
American Surgeon;Mar2005, Vol. 71 Issue 3, p198
Academic Journal
Local control and regional lymph node evaluation are the primary treatment goals for cutaneous primary melanoma. Historically, primary lesions were excised with large 3- to 5-cm radial margins. Recent clinical trials have suggested that similar survival and recurrence rates can be achieved with smaller margins of excision. In addition to excision of the primary lesion, the presence or absence of nodal metastasis is the single most powerful predictor of survival in patients with melanoma. Based on the available trials, the standard of care for a melanoma 1 mm or greater in depth is a wide local excision with a 2-cm margin and a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). The application of this standard in regional teaching hospitals is unknown. We performed a retrospective review of a cancer registry at a teaching hospital in South Carolina. This analysis included all patients who underwent surgery for melanoma at our institution between July 1997 and March 2003. Our single inclusion criterion was that the primary melanoma had to be 1 mm or greater in depth. Only 42 per cent of the patients underwent excision with a radial margin > 2 cm, and only 60 per cent of the patients underwent SLNB. As time progressed, the use of SLNB at our institution increased; but, even as late as 2003, some patients did not receive SLNB. Adherence to standards did not appear to have an effect on overall survival. In conclusion, the current standard for the treatment of invasive melanoma greater than or equal to 1 mm in thickness is a 2-cm margin of excision and a SLNB. In this regional teaching hospital, surgical treatment and staging of melanoma did not strictly adhere to the standard.


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