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Keywords:

  • melanoma;
  • surgery;
  • prognosis;
  • clinical trial

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

On the basis of retrospective experience at individual centers, it appears that patients with stage IV melanoma who undergo complete resection have a favorable outcome compared with patients with disseminated stage IV disease. The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) performed a prospective trial in patients with metastatic melanoma who were enrolled before complete resection of their metastatic disease and provided prospective outcomes in the cooperative group setting.

METHODS:

Based on their physical examination and radiologic imaging studies, patients with a stage IV melanoma judged amenable to complete resection underwent surgery within 28 days of enrollment. All eligible patients were followed with scans (computed tomography or positron emission tomography) every 6 months until relapse and death.

RESULTS:

Seventy-seven patients were enrolled from 18 different centers. Of those, 5 patients were ineligible; 2 had stage III disease alone; and 3 had no melanoma in their surgical specimen. In addition, 8 eligible patients had incompletely resected tumor. Therefore, the primary analysis included 64 completely resected patients. Twenty patients (31%) had visceral disease. With a median follow-up of 5 years, the median relapse-free survival was 5 months (95% CI, 3-7 months) whereas median overall survival was 21 months (95% CI, 16-34 months). Overall survivals at 3 and 4 years were 36% and 31%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a prospective multicenter setting, appropriately selected patients with stage IV melanoma achieved prolonged overall survival after complete surgical resection. Although median relapse-free survival was only 5 months, patients could still frequently undergo subsequent surgery for isolated recurrences. This patient population is appropriate for aggressive surgical therapy and for trials evaluating adjuvant therapy. Cancer 2011;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.