Impact of Biopsy Modality on the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma of the Head and Neck

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to examine how biopsy modality affects the treatment course and outcomes of patients with cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck. Specifically, we investigated if partial biopsy techniques are associated with positive margins on definitive wide local excision (DWLE), the need for early reoperation to obtain adequate margins or sentinel lymph node biopsy, and survival.

Study Design

Retrospective case series.

Setting

Tertiary care academic center.

Subjects and Methods

Subjects (N = 170) included all patients who were surgically treated for primary cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck at the University of Missouri–Columbia between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2015. For analysis, patients were divided into 4 groups based on biopsy modality: shave (n = 61), excisional (n = 62), punch (n = 33), and incisional (n = 14).

Results

The shave biopsy group (P = .0324) and the punch biopsy group (P = .0479) were significantly more likely to have positive margins on DWLE. The shave biopsy group (P = .0042) and the punch biopsy group (P = .0479) were also significantly more likely to need early reoperation. The mean number of sentinel nodes and incidence of positive sentinel nodes detected on pathologic examination did not differ significantly across biopsy modality (P = .3600). Overall survival (P = .4605) and disease-free survival (P = .5011) did not differ significantly among the groups.

Conclusions

Patients diagnosed with shave and punch biopsy techniques are significantly more likely to have positive margins after DWLE and more frequently require early reoperation. Biopsy modality does not appear to influence the number of sentinel nodes detected, the incidence of detecting regional metastases in sentinel nodes, the overall survival, or the disease-free survival.

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