Background: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is routinely performed for primary cutaneous melanomas; however, limited data exist for SLNB after locally recurrent (LR) or in-transit (IT) melanoma. Methods: Data from three centers performing SLNB for LR/IT melanoma (1997 to the present) were reviewed, with the aim of assessing (1) success rate; (2) SLNB positivity; and (3) prognostic value of SLNB in this population. Results: The study cohort included 107 patients. Management of the primary melanoma included prior SLNB for 56 patients (52%), of whom 10 (18%) were positive and 12 had complete lymph node dissections (CLNDs). In the present study, SLNB was performed for IT disease (48/107, 45%) or LR melanoma (59/107, 55%). A sentinel lymph node (SLN) was removed in 96% (103/107) of cases. Nodes were not removed for four patients due to lymphoscintigraphy failures (2) or nodes not found during surgery (2). SLNB was positive in 41 patients (40%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 31.5–50.5), of whom 35 (88%) had CLND, with 13 (37%) having positive nonsentinel nodes. Median time to disease progression after LR/IT metastasis was 1.4 years (95% CI 0.75–2.0) for patients with a positive SLNB, and 5.9 years (95% CI 1.7–10.2) in SLNB-negative patients (p = 0.18). There was a trend towards improved overall survival for patients with a negative SLNB (p = 0.06). Conclusion: SLNB can be successful in patients with LR/IT melanoma, even if prior SLNB was performed. In this population, the rates of SLNB positivity and nonsentinel node metastases were 40% and 37%, respectively. SLNB may guide management and prognosis after LR/IT disease.
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