Purpose: The surgical staging of melanoma dramatically changed with the introduction of sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy. In this study, Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data were examined to determine how surgical treatment is being carried out and whether SLN biopsy is being performed in melanoma patients in conformance with National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. Patients and Methods: The SEER database (1998 to 2001) was searched for all patients with invasive melanoma. NCCN guidelines were used to define optimal stage-specific surgical treatment. Treatment trends in patients with stages I to III disease were summarized, and multivariate analyses were performed to identify factors associated with nonadherence with treatment guidelines. Results: A total of 21,867 melanoma patients were identified; 18,499 of these patients met the inclusion criteria. The number of patients diagnosed with stage III melanoma increased by 55.7% over the study period, and this corresponded to a 53% increase in the number of SLN biopsies performed annually. The odds ratios for nonadherence were 2.32, 2.27, and 1.54 for stages IB, II, and III disease, respectively, compared with stage IA melanoma. Multivariate analyses revealed that age more than 65 years, marital status, minority populations, and primary tumor location were associated with nonadherence with guidelines. Treatment patterns among tumor registries also varied significantly. Conclusion: Stage migration is evident in the SEER registries in consort with increasing use of SLN biopsy. Although treatment trends are improving, SLN biopsy continues to be underused, particularly in the elderly and minority populations, in patients with truncal and head/neck melanomas, and also in some geographic regions of the United States.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research