Contemporary Management of Early-Stage Melanoma: A Systematic Review

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The incidence of melanoma is increasing, with 76 380 new cases of invasive melanoma and 68 480 new cases of melanoma in situ expected in 2016.


To review the contemporary management of early-stage melanoma.

Evidence Review

We searched PubMed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases from January 1, 2011, to May 1, 2016, yielding 966 articles. We focused our search on early-stage (melanoma in situ, stage I, and stage II) cutaneous melanoma. After excluding articles, 41 articles were manually reviewed. A review of the bibliographies of selected articles generated additional references.


While the majority of recent advances have been in the treatment of advanced melanoma, surgical excision with margins based on the presence and depth of invasion continues to be the cornerstone of management. Sentinel lymph node biopsy plays a central role in the staging and treatment of melanoma.

Conclusions and Relevance

Accurate diagnosis and adequate surgical excision are critical in reducing local recurrences and improving outcomes. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is useful in staging the regional nodal basin and guiding treatment in appropriately selected patients.

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