Cutaneous malignant melanoma of the head and neck
A computer-aided analysis of 5,109 patients with malignant melanoma was performed. Patient population characteristics according to body site (head and neck, extremity, and trunk) were determined for the following parameters: sex, histologic type of melanoma, Clark's level, Breslow thickness, age, clinical status of regional nodes, presence or absence of ulceration, and recurrence. Head and neck melanomas accounted for 17% of the total population (N=877). A detailed analysis of general population characteristics according to subsites within the head and neck region (ear, face, neck, nose, and scalp) was performed. Survival characteristics were determined for head and neck patients according to lymph node surgery, histologic type of tumor, and tumor thickness. The effect on survival of lymph node dissection (elective for stage I disease and therapeutic for stage II disease) was analyzed by univariate and multivariate methods. Elective lymph node dissection (ELND) was performed on 77 patients and 39 patients underwent therapeutic nodal dissection (TLND). Overall, survival was significantly improved following ELND as compared to TLND; however, multivariate analysis indicated the improved survival was related to variations of age within the population rather than the beneficial effect of lymph node surgery. Elective lymph node dissection did significantly reduce the incidence of recurrence for head and neck patients (p=0.002). Since recurrence was demonstrated to be directly related to survival, the trend toward improved survival following ELND after 5 years was felt to be important. There was no difference in survival according to the histologic type of melanoma. © The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.
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