Background: The sentinel lymph node (SLN) is the first lymph node in the regional nodal basin to receive metastatic cells. In-transit nodes are found between the primary melanoma site and regional nodal basins. To date, this is one of the first reports on micrometastasis to in-transit nodes.
Methods: Retrospective database and medical records were reviewed from October 21, 1993, to November 19. 1999. At the UCSF Melanoma Center, patients with tumor thickness > 1 mm or < 1 mm with high-risk features are managed with preoperative lymphoscintigraphy, selective SLN dissection, and wide local excision.
Results: Thirty (5%) out of 557 extremity and truncal melanoma patients had in-transit SLNs. Three patients had positive in-transit SLNs and negative SLNs in the regional nodal basin. Two patients had positive in-transit and regional SLNs. Three patients had negative in-transit SLNs but positive regional SLNs. The remaining 22 patients were negative for in-transit and regional SLNs.
Conclusions: In-transit SLNs may harbor micrometastasis. About 10% of the time, micrometastasis may involve the in-transit and not the regional SLN. Therefore, both in-transit and regional SLNs should be harvested.