Prognosis and surgical management of patients with palpable inguinal lymph node metastases from melanoma




The appropriate management of melanoma metastatic to inguinal lymph nodes remains controversial. The aim of this study was to identify disease- and treatment-related factors that influence the outcome of patients undergoing therapeutic groin dissection for clinically detectable melanoma lymph node metastases.


A retrospective analysis was performed on data collected from the case records of patients who had a therapeutic inguinal lymph node dissection performed between 1984 and 1998.


Some 132 patients were suitable for inclusion. Sixty patients had superficial inguinal lymph node dissection (SLND) and 72 had combined superficial inguinal and pelvic lymph node dissection (CLND). There was no difference in postoperative morbidity or major lymphoedema between SLND and CLND. The overall survival rate was 34 per cent at 5 years. On univariate analysis, age (P = 0·003), the number of involved superficial lymph nodes (P = 0·001) and the presence of extracapsular spread (P = 0·003) were found to have a significant impact on survival. The presence or absence of pelvic lymph node metastases in patients who had CLND was a significant prognostic factor for survival (5-year survival 19 versus 47 per cent; P = 0·015).


The prognosis of patients with clinically detectable melanoma metastases to the groin is variable and related to the biological characteristics of each case. CLND provided additional prognostic information and optimal regional control with no increased morbidity compared with SLND. © 2000 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd