Purpose: Although the prognosis of patients with thin primary cutaneous melanomas (T1, ≤ 1.0 mm) is generally excellent, some develop recurrence. We sought to develop and validate a model predicting recurrences in patients with thin melanomas.
Methods: A Dutch population-based cohort (n = 25,930, development set) and a cohort from an Australian melanoma treatment center (n = 2,968, validation set) were analyzed (median follow-up 6.7 and 12.0 years, respectively). Multivariable Cox models were generated for local, regional, and distant recurrence-free survival (RFS). Discrimination was assessed using Harrell's C-statistic for each outcome. Each nomogram performance was evaluated using calibration plots defining low-risk and high-risk groups as the lowest and top 5% of the nomogram risk score, respectively. The nomograms' C-statistics were compared with those of a model including the current American Joint Committee on Cancer staging parameters (T-stage and sentinel node status).
Results: Local, regional, and distant recurrences were found in 209 (0.8%), 503 (1.9%), and 203 (0.8%) Dutch patients, respectively, and 23 (0.8%), 61 (2.1%), and 75 (2.5%) Australian patients, respectively. C-statistics of 0.79 (95% CI, 0.75 to 0.82) for local RFS, 0.77 (95% CI, 0.75 to 0.78) for regional RFS, and 0.80 (95% CI, 0.77 to 0.83) for distant RFS were obtained for the development model. External validation showed C-statistics of 0.80 (95% CI, 0.69 to 0.90), 0.76 (95% CI, 0.70 to 0.82), and 0.74 (95% CI, 0.69 to 0.80), respectively. Calibration plots showed a good match between predicted and observed rates. Using the nomogram, the C-statistic was increased by 9%-12% for the development cohort and by 11%-15% for the validation cohort, compared with a model including only T-stage and sentinel node status.
Conclusion: Most patients with thin melanomas have an excellent prognosis, but some develop recurrence. The presented nomograms can accurately identify a subgroup at high risk. An online calculator is available at www.melanomarisk.org.au.