High incidence of in-transit metastases after sentinel node biopsy in patients with melanoma

Br J Surg. 2004 Oct;91(10):1370-1. doi: 10.1002/bjs.4692.


Background: The occurrence of in-transit metastases in patients with a tumour-positive sentinel node varies greatly between centres and it has been suggested that the incidence is high in this patient group.

Methods: The incidence of in-transit metastases in 61 patients who had lymph node dissection because of a tumour-positive sentinel node was compared with that in 60 patients who had palpable nodal metastases dissected.

Results: The incidence of in-transit metastases was 23 per cent in patients with a positive sentinel node and 8 per cent in those with palpable nodes (P = 0.027).

Conclusion: Sentinel node biopsy was associated with a higher risk of in-transit metastases. This finding does not support the routine use of sentinel node biopsy in the management of melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Seeding*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / adverse effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms*