Management of In-Transit Metastases

Curr Oncol Rep. 2022 May;24(5):573-583. doi: 10.1007/s11912-022-01216-0. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this study is to discuss the current knowledge and future perspectives regarding the treatment options for in-transit metastases (ITM), along with the optimal algorithms for patients presenting with this adverse manifestation of melanoma.

Recent findings: In addition to procedures historically accepted for the management of ITM, encompassing surgery and regional techniques, novel medications in the form of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) and targeted therapies now represent standard options, allowing for the possibility of combined approaches, with an expanding role of systemic therapies. Melanoma in-transit metastases consist of intralymphatic neoplastic implants distributed between the primary site and the regional nodal basin, within the subepidermal and dermal lymphatics. Distinct risk factors may influence the development of ITM, and the clinical presentation can be highly heterogeneous, enhancing the complexity of the management of ITM. Surgical resection, when feasible, continues to represent a standard approach for patients with curative intent. Patients with extensive or unresectable disease may also benefit from regional approaches that include isolated limb perfusion or infusion, electrochemotherapy, and a wide variety of intralesional therapies. Over the past decade, regimens with ICI and BRAF/MEK inhibitors dramatically expanded the benefit of systemic treatments for patients with melanoma, both in the adjuvant setting and for those with advanced disease, and the combination of these modalities with regional treatments, as well as neoadjuvant approaches, may represent the future for the treatment of patients with ITM.

Keywords: Cutaneous malignancies; Immunotherapy; In-transit metastases; Isolated limb perfusion; Melanoma; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lymphatic System
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology