Local Recurrence Rates After Excision of Desmoplastic Melanoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Dermatol Surg. 2023 Apr 1;49(4):330-337. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000003699. Epub 2023 Mar 1.


Background: Few prospective studies have evaluated local recurrence rates (LRR) after excision of desmoplastic melanoma (DM); however, several retrospective studies have reported high LRR.

Objective: To determine LRR after excision of DM and evaluate factors affecting LRR.

Materials and methods: Systematic review of the PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases was performed to identify studies reporting local recurrence after excision of DM with conventional wide local excision (WLE), Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS), or staged excision (SE). Meta-analysis was performed to calculate summary LRR and pooled risk ratios (RR).

Results: Literature search identified 4 studies evaluating MMS or SE (total n = 61 DM). 53 studies assessed WLE ( n = 3,080) and were analyzed quantitatively. The overall LRR after WLE of DM was 21% (95% CI, 0.16-0.28; n = 2,308). Local recurrence rate was higher with positive/unknown histologic excision margins (49%, 95% CI, 0.25-0.74; n = 91) versus negative histologic margins (11%, 95% CI, 0.07-0.17; n = 1,075; [ p < .01]). Neurotropism was also associated with increased LRR (RR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.34-2.38, p < .01; n = 644).

Conclusion: DM has high LRR after WLE. Local recurrence risk was greatest with positive excision margins, indicating the importance of achieving negative microscopic margins. Greater study of MMS and SE for DM is required.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Margins of Excision
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Melanoma* / surgery
  • Mohs Surgery
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / surgery