Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) provides prognostic information for melanoma; however, a survival benefit has not been demonstrated.
To assess the association of SLNB with survival for melanoma arising in head and neck subsites (HNM).
Design, Setting, and Participants
Propensity score–matched retrospective cohort study using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database to compare US patients with HNM meeting current recommendations for SLNB, treated from 2004 to 2011 with either (1) SLNB with or without neck dissection, or (2) no SLNB or neck dissection.
SLNB with or without neck dissection.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Disease-specific survival (DSS) estimates based on the Kaplan-Meier method, and Cox proportional hazards modeling to compare survival outcomes between matched pair cohorts.
A total of 7266 patients with HNM meeting study criteria were identified from the SEER database. Matching of treatment cohorts was performed using propensity scores modeled on 10 covariates known to be associated with SLNB treatment or melanoma survival. Cohorts were stratified by tumor thickness (thin, >0.75-1.00 mm Breslow thickness; intermediate, >1.00-4.00 mm; and thick, >4.00 mm) and exactly matched within 5 age categories. In the intermediate-thickness cohort, 2808 patients with HNM were matched and balanced by propensity score for SLNB treatment; the 5-year DSS estimate for those treated by SLNB was 89% vs 88% for nodal observation (log-rank P = .30). The hazard ratio for melanoma-specific death was 0.87 for those undergoing SLNB (95% CI, 0.66-1.14; P = .31). In each of the other cohorts analyzed, including those with thin and thick melanomas, and cohorts with melanoma overall, no significant difference in DSS was demonstrated.
Conclusions and Relevance
This SEER cohort analysis demonstrates no significant association between SLNB and improved disease-specific survival for patients with HNM.