Purpose: Prospective data are lacking on long-term morbidity of inguinal lymphadenectomy including the influence of extent of surgery, use of radiotherapy, and patient factors. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of these factors on patient outcome, quality of life (QOL), regional symptoms, and limb volumes after inguinal or ilio-inguinal lymphadenectomy for melanoma.
Methods: Analysis of the subgroup of patients with inguinal lymph node field relapse of melanoma, treated by inguinal or ilio-inguinal lymphadenectomy in the ANZMTG/TROG randomized trial of adjuvant radiotherapy versus observation.
Results: Sixty-nine patients, 46 having undergone inguinal and 23 ilio-inguinal lymphadenectomy, with median follow-up of 73 months were analyzed. Mean limb volume increased rapidly after surgery (7% by 3 months) and continued to increase for at least another 18 months. Patients with body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2 had greater limb volume increase than normal-weight patients (13.3% versus 6.9%, P = 0.030). QOL improved over the first 18 months, but despite initial improvement, regional symptoms persisted long term. Type of surgery (inguinal or ilio-inguinal lymphadenectomy) had no demonstrably significant effect on limb volume (9.9% versus 13.4%, P = 0.35), QOL (P = 0.68), or regional symptoms (P = 0.65). There was no difference in overall survival between inguinal and ilio-inguinal lymphadenectomy [hazard ratio (HR) 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.40-1.40, P = 0.43].
Conclusions: Inguinal lymphadenectomy for melanoma is a potentially morbid procedure with significant increases in limb volume. Patients report reasonable QOL but may have ongoing regional symptoms. Overweight/obesity is associated with poorer QOL, increased limb volume, and regional symptoms.