Hazard rates for recurrent and secondary cutaneous melanoma: An analysis of 33,384 patients in the German Central Malignant Melanoma Registry
Knowledge about the risk for recurrence and secondary cutaneous melanoma (CM) is an important basis for patient counseling and planning of follow-up examinations.Objectives
This study aimed to analyze stage- and time-dependent hazard rates (HR) and discusses current surveillance recommendations.Methods
Follow-up data of 33,384 patients with incident CM in stages I to III (American Joint Committee on Cancer 2002) were recorded by the German Central Malignant Melanoma Registry in 1976 through 2007. Survival was based on Kaplan-Meier estimates and HRs were calculated.Results
Recurrences were recorded in 4999 patients (stage I, 7.1%; stage II, 32.8%; and stage III, 51.0%). Ten-year recurrence-free survival was 78.9% (95% confidence interval 73.1–90.5); in stage I, 89.0%; stage II, 56.9%; and stage III, 36.0%. Whereas HR for recurrent CM showed a constantly low level less than or equal to 1:125 per year for stage IA, clearly higher HRs of greater than or equal to 1:40 were recorded in stage IB for the first 3 years and generally in stages II to III. Of all patients 2.3% developed secondary melanomas, with a consistently low HR of less than 1:220 per year.Limitations
As German recommendations discontinued regular follow-up examinations after 10 years, no information can be given beyond this time point. Follow-up data of longer than 5 years were available in 41.4% of patients.Conclusion
For patients at stage IA with thin melanoma and low HR for recurrent CM the need for surveillance remains questionable. For patients with higher HR greater than 1:40 per year, intensified surveillance strategies should be taken into account.