Sentinel lymph node biopsy in elderly irish patients with malignant melanoma.
In patients with malignant melanoma, Breslow depth increases with age. However, studies suggest that the frequency of sentinel lymph node metastases in malignant melanoma decreases with age. We investigated whether this applied to the cohort of patients undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) in our institution. In a prospectively accrued database we identified 149 patients undergoing SLNB from 1997 to 2005. Tumour thickness as measured by Breslow depth was assessed in stratified age groups. We assessed the relationship between SLNB positivity and age using the Chi-square for trend. We directly examined the relationship between SLNB positivity in patients aged less than 65 and aged 65 years of age and over. Disease-free and overall survival in patients aged less than 65 and aged 65 years of age and over were also assessed. Comparing the age groups, there was no significant difference identified in Breslow depth (years, median Breslow > or = 1.2 mm (range 0.2-9.7); > or =65 years, median Breslow > or = 1.4 mm (range 0.12-8.5); p > or = 0.06, Mann-Whitney U). Chi-square for trend identified no significant relationship between SLNB positivity and age. We found n=120 patientsSLNB, of which 26 (21.7%) were positive. In patients =65, n=29 had SLNB of which 3 (10.3%) were positive. These differences were not statistically significant (Fisher's exact test, p > or = 0.2). There was no difference in disease-free or overall survival between patients agedor =65 who had SLNB (median follow-up 37.5 months (range 5-70); disease-free survival, p > 0.08; overall survival, p > or = 0.3, Logrank test). We did not find that elderly patients with malignant melanoma had a demonstrable difference in tumour thickness when compared to younger patients. In those patients who underwent SLNB there was no significant difference in node positivity between the age groups. Disease-free and overall survival were not significantly different between the age groups. Further study and longer follow-up will help establish the relationship between age and SLNB positivity.