Increasing Age Is Associated with Worse Prognostic Factors and Increased Distant Recurrences despite Fewer Sentinel Lymph Node Positives in Melanoma

Int J Surg Oncol. 2012;2012:456987. doi: 10.1155/2012/456987. Epub 2012 Mar 18.

Abstract

Background. Advanced age is associated with a poorer prognosis in patients with melanoma. Despite this established finding, a decreased incidence of positive sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) with advancing age has paradoxically been described. Methods. Using a single-institution database of melanoma patients between 1994 and 2009, the relationship between standard clinicopathologic variables and recurrence based on age was evaluated. Results. 1244 patients who underwent successful SLN biopsies were analyzed (mean followup 80.3 months). Increasing age was independently associated with worse survival on multivariable analysis (P = 0.02). SLN status was more likely to be negative if the patient was older (P = 0.01). Conclusions. Our data supports the paradox that increasing age is associated with a lower frequency of positive-SLN biopsies despite age itself being a poor prognostic factor. We propose that age-dependent variations in the primary tumor and the patient may predispose to a hematogenous route of spread for the older population, leading to worse survival.