The risk of sentinel lymph node (SLN) positivity was significantly lower in patients with melanoma with histologic regression compared with those without regression, a new study published online ahead of print in JAMA Dermatology has shown.1

Histologic regression in melanoma occurs when an area within the tumor in which neoplastic cells have become reduced in number or disappeared from the dermis or epidermis and have been replaced by scar tissue. SLN status is the most significant factor in estimating prognosis in patients with intermediate and thick melanomas.

The prognostic significance of regression is debatable, and therefore, the need for SLN biopsy when regression is present is unclear.

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For the study, a team of researchers led by Simone Ribero, MD, PhD, of the Department of Medical Sciences Section of Dermatology at the University of Turin in Italy systematically reviewed data from 14 studies that included 10,098 patients to evaluate how histologic regression may affect SLN status.

RELATED: In Cutaneous Melanoma, Early Sentinel-Node Biopsy Associated with Poorer Survival

Results showed that patients with regression had a significantly lower risk to have SLN positivity (OR = 0.56; 95% CI: 0.41-0.77) than patients without regression.

The findings suggest that regression may be used to determine which patients should be the most appropriate for SLN biopsy.


  1. Ribero S, Gualano MR, Osella-Abate S, et al. Association of histologic regression in primary melanoma with sentinel lymph node status: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online ahead of print on September 2, 2015]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2235.