Background Even after negative sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for primary melanoma, patients who develop in-transit (IT) melanoma or local recurrences (LR) can have subclinical regional lymph node involvement. Study Design A prospective database identified 33 patients with IT melanoma/LR who underwent technetium 99m sulfur colloid lymphoscintigraphy alone (n = 15) or in conjunction with lymphazurin dye (n = 18) administered only if the IT melanoma/LR was concurrently excised. Results Seventy-nine percent (26 of 33) of patients undergoing SLNB in this study had earlier removal of lymph nodes in the same lymph node basin as the expected drainage of the IT melanoma or LR at the time of diagnosis of their primary melanoma. Lymphoscintography at time of presentation with IT melanoma/LR was successful in 94% (31 of 33) cases, and at least 1 sentinel lymph node was found intraoperatively in 97% (30 of 31) cases. The SLNB was positive in 33% (10 of 30) of these cases. Completion lymph node dissection was performed in 90% (9 of 10) of patients. Nine patients with negative SLNB and IT melanoma underwent regional chemotherapy. Patients in this study with a positive sentinel lymph node at the time the IT/LR was mapped had a considerably shorter time to development of distant metastatic disease compared with those with negative sentinel lymph nodes. Conclusions In this study, we demonstrate the technical feasibility and clinical use of repeat SLNB for recurrent melanoma. Performing SLNB cannot only optimize local, regional, and systemic treatment strategies for patients with LR or IT melanoma, but also appears to provide important prognostic information.
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