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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Trends in Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Enactment for Cutaneous Melanoma

Mary-Ann El Sharouni MD, Arjen J. Witkamp MD, PhD, Vigfús Sigurdsson MD, PhD, Paul J. van Diest MD, PhD
Volume 26, Issue 5 / May , 2019



Over recent years, sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) recommendations in guidelines for cutaneous melanoma have changed considerably. We aimed to assess trends in enactment of SLNB to evaluate to what extent guidelines were adhered to, and to identify clinical and pathological determinants of (non-)adherence.


Clinicopathological data from the Dutch nationwide network and registry of histopathology and cytopathology were retrieved from patients diagnosed with primary cutaneous melanoma in The Netherlands between 2003 and 2014. SLNB enactment was analyzed per year. Multivariable regression models were developed to assess the determinants of SLNB enactment.


A total of 51,510 primary cutaneous melanomas in 49,514 patients were diagnosed, of which 24,603 melanomas were eligible for SLNB as they were staged T1b or higher. In practice, only 9761 (39.7%) patients underwent SLNB, with an increasing trend from 39.1% in 2003 to 47.8% in 2014 (p < 0.001). A total of 759 (2.9%) of 26,426 patients without SLNB indication underwent SLNB anyway. Variables significantly associated with enactment of SLNB were male sex, younger age, and melanoma on sites other than the head and neck.


Although there was an increasing trend in time in SLNB enactment, enactment of SLNB did not comply well with recommendations in (inter)national guidelines. Female sex, higher age, and melanoma located on the head and neck were associated with non-enactment of SLNB.

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