Melanoma patients with clinically evident regional lymph node metastases are treated with therapeutic lymph node dissections (TLNDs). The aim of this study was to evaluate morbidity and mortality following TLND in our institution. Moreover, disease-free (DFS) and overall (OS) survival were evaluated and factors that influence prognosis after TLND were assessed. Between 1982 and 2005, 236 patients underwent a TLND. Patients, who received a palliative LND or a sentinel node procedure, were not included. The median Breslow thickness was 2.4mm. Ulceration was present in 23% of patients and unknown in 66%. 37 patients had unknown primary tumors. There were 129 ilio-inguinal, 50 axillary and 61 cervical dissections performed. 37% of the patients experienced at least one operation related complication. The most frequently seen complications were wound infections/necrosis and chronic lymph edema. Ilio-inguinal dissection patients experienced significantly more complications and a longer duration of hospitalization compared to axillary or cervical patients. The duration of hospitalization has been reduced in recent years from 12 to 5days. The mean follow-up was 29months. Kaplan-Meier estimated 5-year regional control was 79%, 5-year DFS was 19% and 5-year OS was 26%. The number of positive lymph nodes, the site of the primary tumor and extra capsular extension (ECE) were independent prognostic factors for DFS and only site and ECE for OS. In conclusion, TLND for stage III melanoma is accompanied with considerable short-term complications, and can achieve regional control and potential curation in approximately one in every four patients.

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European Journal of Surgical Oncology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Akkooi, A.C.J, Bouwhuis, M.G, van Geel, A.N, & Hoedemaker, R. (2007). Morbidity and prognosis after therapeutic lymph node dissections for malignant melanoma. European Journal of Surgical Oncology, 33(1), 102–108. doi:10.1016/j.ejso.2006.10.032