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01.11.2010 | Melanomas | Ausgabe 11/2010 Open Access

Annals of Surgical Oncology 11/2010

Detection of Melanoma Nodal Metastases; Differences in Detection Between Elderly and Younger Patients Do Not Affect Survival

Annals of Surgical Oncology > Ausgabe 11/2010
MD S. Kruijff, MSc E. Bastiaannet, MD, PhD A. J. H. Suurmeijer, MD, PhD H. J. Hoekstra



Melanoma lymph nodes metastases may be detected by patients or by physicians. Understanding the outcomes of self-detection or physician detection is essential for the design of follow-up studies. We evaluated the role of the method of detection in nodal disease in the prognosis of melanoma patients who underwent therapeutic lymph node dissection (TLND).

Materials and Methods

All melanoma patients with palpable lymph nodes were included in a prospective database (n = 98), and the method of detection was recorded. Detection of lymph node metastases compared with pathological findings in the TLND was assessed by multivariate logistic regression. Disease-free survival (DFS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) were assessed by univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard analysis.


Nodal metastases were detected by physicians in 45% and by patients in 55% (P < 0.001). Age was significantly associated with method of detection. Patients ≤60 years detected 69% their lymph node metastases as opposed to 32% of patients >60 years (odds ratio [OR] 0.3; P = 0.007). However, this was not associated with prognostic findings in TLND, number of positive nodes, tumor size, or extranodal spread. Method of detection or age at the time of nodal metastases was not significantly associated with 2-year DFS or DSS.


45% of all lymph node metastases in stage I–II melanoma patients are physician detected. Younger patients detect their own lymph node metastases significantly more often than elderly patients. However, neither the method of detection nor age correlates with DSS. More frequent follow-up would not alter DFS and DSS significantly.

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