• A group of 525 patients with primary cutaneous malignant melanoma of the trunk was treated by a uniform surgical approach that included regional lymph node dissection for selected patients; 266 (50.6%) had regional lymph node dissections in addition to wide and deep excision, all with primary lesions extending below the superficial papillary dermis. Of 171 patients treated over five years ago, 130 had histologically negative nodes; 94 (72%) are alive with no evidence of disease (NED). Of 41 with histologically positive nodes, 12 (29%) are alive with NED. A comparison of the 21 patients with clinically occult micrometastases shows eight (38%) alive with NED, whereas four of 20 (20%) with clinically demonstrable as well as histologically proven nodal metastases are alive with NED. Though there may be a modest benefit to lymph node dissection for microscopic rather than gross nodal metastases for invasive melanoma of the trunk, for most such patients melanoma in regional nodes indicates the presence of systemic metastatic disease.
(Arch Surg 1981;116:315-317)