Clinical factors associated with subclinical spread of in situ melanoma

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Subclinical spread of in situ melanoma occurs at a wide frequency, ranging from 12% to 71%.


To identify clinical factors associated with subclinical spread of in situ melanoma.


We used a retrospective, cross-sectional study of 674 consecutive in situ melanomas to examine 627 patients treated with Mohs surgery and melanoma antigen recognized by T cells 1 immunostaining. The presence of subclinical spread was correlated with clinical characteristics. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to generate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Both univariate and multivariate analyses demonstrated significantly increased odds for subclinical spread of in situ melanomas when they were located on the head or neck, at acral sites, or on the pretibial leg (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.41-3.40); in persons with a history of prior treatment (OR 2.77, 95% CI 1.74-4.420); melanomas of preoperative size >1 cm (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.23-2.46, P = .002); or in persons ≥60 years old (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.01-2.13, P = .042). A count prediction model demonstrated that the risk for subclinical spread increased with the number of clinical risk factors.


We used a single-site, retrospective study design.


Clarifying the risk factors for subclinical spread might help to refine triage of in situ melanomas to the appropriate surgical techniques for margin assessment prior to reconstruction.

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