• regional recurrence;
  • extracapsular extension;
  • local treatment


Regional recurrence of melanoma is usually treated with surgical resection alone. Unfortunately sites of failure following surgical resection are poorly documented. Little information exists regarding local failure following surgery. In order to define local control, a retrospective analysis was performed of all patients undergoing a potentially curative lymph node dissection for metastatic melanoma. From 1978 to 1988, 48 patients underwent lymph node dissection with removal of all known disease (15 axillary, 25 groin and 8 radical neck dissections). Seven patients had stage II disease with simultaneous resection of the primary lesion and nodal dissection. The remaining 41 patients had stage I disease with dissection delayed until nodal metastasis became apparent. Of these 48 patients, 25 experienced local failure for an overall local control rate of 48%. Univariate and multivariate analysis showed only age to be a statistically significant prognostic indicator of local failure with a rate of 31% for patients >50 years of age vs. 66% for patients >50 years of age (P = 0.02). Nodal size, number of nodes involved, extracapsular extension, initial stage, location, or sex did not influence prognosis. Although not statistically significant, time to recurrence was much shorter in patients with extracapsular extension, 5 months vs. 16 months. With an overall local failure rate of 52% following a potentially curable therapeutic nodal dissection further local treatment should be considered. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.