• The records of 129 patients with thick cutaneous melanoma of the trunk or extremity treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, between 1974 and 1984 were reviewed with the aim of defining prognostic variables. All primary lesions invaded subcutaneous fat, were Clark level V, or of a Breslow thickness of 4.0 mm or greater. Treatment in all cases was by wide excision with or without split-thickness skin graft; all patients underwent regional lymph node dissection. Overall survival rate for the group was 47% at 5 years and 36% at 10 years. Factors independently predictive of survival were pathologic negative nodes (71% at 5 years compared with 28% for pathologic positive nodes) and extremity site (58% at 5 years compared with 33% for truncal site). Patients with node-negative thick cutaneous melanoma of the extremity had a 5-year survival rate of 82%. Patients with node-positive truncal thick cutaneous melanoma had a 5-year survival rate of only 8%. There was no difference between the 5-year survival rate of patients with nodenegative truncal thick cutaneous melanoma, 52%, and patients with node-positive thick cutaneous melanoma of the extremity, 42%. Nearly half of the patients with thick cutaneous melanoma of the extremity and trunk present with locoregional disease, at a stage when an aggressive surgical approach is warranted. Prognostic variables of pathologic nodal status and site identify patients at risk for early systemic failure.
(Arch Surg. 1990;125:322-326)