Melanoma in children and the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy
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BACKGROUND: The rarity of pediatric melanoma prompted our review of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and associated prognosis. METHODS: A chart review from 1989 to 2004 revealed 12 cases of cutaneous melanoma. Variables analyzed included demographics, site, histology, tumor characteristics, nodal status, and distant metastasis (TMN status), SLNB and/or therapeutic lymph node dissection (TLND), adjuvant treatment, disease-free survival, and overall survival. RESULTS: Mean age at diagnosis was 8.5 years with 7 of 12 patients younger than 10 years (range, 0.3-17.9 years). Site distribution was the extremity (7), trunk (4), and head and neck (1). All patients had wide local excision and primary closure or skin graft. Breslow's thickness averaged 3.5 mm (range, 0.8-6 mm). Only patients diagnosed after 2000 with melanomas thicker than 1 mm were offered SLNB (extremity = 2, trunk = 1, head and neck = 1). Two patients had positive sentinel lymph node: one received TLND and interferon and one is followed closely (unclear pathology). Disease-free survival and overall survival by stage were stage I (n = 2, 3.9 years, 100%), stage II (n = 6, 7.7 years, 83%), stage III (n = 4, 2.6 years, 75%), and stage IV (n = 0). A stage II patient with negative SLNB, adjuvant chemotherapy, and interferon died 26 months after diagnosis, and a stage III patient with clinically and pathologically positive nodes after TLND died 15 months after diagnosis. CONCLUSION: Although a negative SLNB does not guarantee a favorable prognosis, its increasing use will further define its role in pediatric melanoma.
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