Early sentinel-node biopsy is associated with poorer survival than delayed biopsy in patients with cutaneous melanoma, a study published this month in the European Journal of Cancer has shown.1

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 74,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States in 2015 and about 9,940 Americans will die from the disease.

Because there is often a delay between excisional biopsy of the primary tumor and sentinel-node biopsy in patients with primary cutaneous melanoma, researchers in Spain sought to evaluate the impact of this delay on prognosis.

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For the retrospective study, researchers analyzed data from 1,963 patients who received cancer care at 4 tertiary referral hospitals.

They specifically looked at the affect of the time interval between the date of excisional biopsy of the primary melanoma and the date of the sentinel-node biopsy on melanoma-specific survival and disease-free survival.

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Results showed that a delay time of 40 days or less (HR = 1.7, CI: 1.2, 2.5), Breslow thickness 2 mm or more (HR > 3.7; CI: 1.4, 10.7), ulceration (HR = 1.6; CI: 1.1, 2.3), sentinel-node metastasis (HR = 2.9; CI: 1.9, 4.2), and primary melanoma localized in the head or neck were independently associated with poorer melanoma-specific survival (all P < .03).

The findings suggest that an early sentinel-node biopsy 40 days or less after the excisional biopsy is associated with worse survival among patients with cutaneous melanoma.


  1. Tejera-Vaquerizo A, Nagore E, Puig S, et al. Effect of time to sentinel-node biopsy on the prognosis of cutaneous melanoma. Eur J Cancer. 2015;51(13):1780-1793.