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AIMS: To determine the prognostic value of SLNB in patients with thick melanoma in terms of overall survival (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS). METHODS: 136 patients with primary tumours (Breslow thickness ≥ 4.0 mm) underwent SLNB. OS and RFS were calculated and a multivariate Cox regression model used to determine the important prognostic factors for predicting OS and RFS. RESULTS: Median Breslow thickness was 5.5 mm and 60% were ulcerated. Median follow up was 4 years (95% CI = 4-5) with 54 patients having died at the time of analysis. 5-year OS for SLNB positive patients was 32%, compared to 78% for negative patients. The significant predictors of poorer OS were increasing age (p = 0.03), increasing Breslow thickness (p = 0.03) and SLNB positivity (p < 0.0001). 5 year RFS was significantly worse in the SLNB positive population compared to the negative patients (p < 0.0001); 27% versus 66% respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a thick melanoma and a positive SLNB have a significantly worse RFS and OS compared to those with a negative SLNB. Over three-quarters of patients with a negative SLNB survived five years. These findings have implications for the subpopulations included in adjuvant therapy trials and we advocate SLNB be recommended in patients with thick melanomas.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Surg Oncol

Publication Date





936 - 942


Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cohort Studies, Confidence Intervals, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Lymphatic Metastasis, Male, Melanoma, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Neoplasm Staging, Predictive Value of Tests, Retrospective Studies, Risk Assessment, Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, Sex Factors, Skin Neoplasms, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom, Young Adult