• A total of 2468 patients with recurrent melanoma were subdivided on the basis of disease-free interval: group 1 had recurrences within 1 year (n=810), group 2 at years 1 to 3 (n=1001), group 3 at years 3 to 5 (n=363), group 4 at years 5 to 10 (n=329), and group 5 after 10 years (n=145). Ten-year survivals were 21%, 23%, 25%, 28%, and 35%, respectively. Patients who had recurrences within 1 year had a decreased median survival compared with those who had later recurrences, although the differences were not clinically significant (only 6 to 8 months). Survival was improved for the few patients who had recurrences longer than 10 years from diagnosis. However, for the majority of patients, who had recurrences between 1 and 10 years, the disease-free interval did not predict subsequent survival. The data support the hypothesis that malignant cells can exist in a state of relative quiescence for extended periods. Once disease reactivation occurs, however, the subsequent survival is relatively predictable and is independent of the initial period of tumor dormancy.
(Arch Surg. 1992;127:1303-1308)