• Among proponents of elective lymph node dissection (ELND) for clinical stage I melanoma, controversy exists as to whether there is an upper limit of tumor thickness beyond which ELND should not be considered. We reviewed 169 patients with clinical stage I and II melanoma that was greater than or equal to 3.0 mm thick and who were treated at the University of Illinois Hospital, Chicago. Of 139 patients with clinical stage I disease, 117 underwent ELND. Five- and ten-year survival rates were 55.7% and 48.9%, respectively. Multifactorial analysis demonstrated that anatomical location, level, pathologic stage, and ulceration were the best predictors of survival. Thickness did not emerge as a significant variable. Our findings do not support basing treatment decisions, eg, ELND in this group of patients, solely on the thickness of the primary tumor. We continue to recommend ELND in patients with either intermediate or thick melanomas.
(Arch Surg 1987;122:707-711)