Follow-up Schedule for Patients With Sentinel Node-negative Cutaneous Melanoma (The MELFO Study): An International Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial

Ann Surg. 2022 Oct 1;276(4):e208-e216. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005621. Epub 2022 Jul 22.


Objectives and design: The MELFO (MELanoma FOllow-up) study is an international phase III randomized controlled trial comparing an experimental low-intensity schedule against current national guidelines.

Background: Evidence-based guidelines for the follow-up of sentinel node-negative melanoma patients are lacking.

Methods: Overall, 388 adult patients diagnosed with sentinel node-negative primary melanoma patients were randomized in cancer centers in the Netherlands and United Kingdom between 2006 and 2016. The conventional schedule group (control: n=196) was reviewed as per current national guidelines. The experimental schedule group (n=192) was reviewed in a reduced-frequency schedule. Quality of life was the primary outcome measurement. Detection rates and survival outcomes were recorded. Patient satisfaction rates and compliance with allocated schedules were compared.

Results: At 5 years, both arms expressed high satisfaction with their regimens (>97%). This study found no significant group effect on any patient-reported outcome measure scores between the follow-up protocols. In total, 75/388 (19.4%) patients recurred, with no difference in incidence found between the 2 arms (hazard ratio=0.87, 95% confidence interval: 0.54-1.39, P =0.57). Self-examination was the method of detection for 25 experimental patients and 32 control patients (75.8% vs. 76.2%; P =0.41). This study found no difference in any survival outcomes between the 2 study arms (disease-free survival: hazard ratio=1.00, 95% confidence interval: 0.49-2.07, P =0.99).

Conclusions: A reduced-intensity, American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage-adjusted follow-up schedule for sentinel node-negative melanoma patients is a safe strategy, and patient self-examination is effective for recurrence detection with no evidence of diagnostic delay. Patients' acceptance is very high.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Quality of Life
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant