Objective. The results of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) can be useful for staging and deciding on adjuvant treatment for patients with head and neck melanoma. False-negative SLNB can result in treatment delay. This study aimed to evaluate the characteristics and outcome of patients with false-negative SLNB in cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck. Study Design. Longitudinal cohort study using a prospective institutional tumor registry. Setting. Academic health center. Subjects and Methods. Data from 153 patients who underwent SLNB for melanoma of the head and neck were analyzed. False-negative biopsy was defined as recurrence of tumor in a previously identified negative nodal basin. Statistical analysis was performed on registry data. Results. Positive sentinel lymph nodes were identified in 19 (12.4%) patients. False-negative SLNB was noted in 9 (5.9%) patients, with a false-negative SLNB rate of 32.1%. Using multivariate regression analysis, only examination of a single sentinel lymph node was a significant predictor of false-negative SLNB (P = .01). The mean treatment delay for the false-negative SLNB group was 470 days compared with 23 days in the positive SLNB group (P < .001). The 2-year overall survival of patients with false-negative SLNB was 75% compared with 84% and 98% in positive and negative SLNB groups, respectively (P = .02). Conclusions. False-negative SLNB is more likely to occur when a single sentinel lymph node is harvested. There is significant treatment delay in patients with false-negative SLNB. False-negative SLNB is associated with poor outcome in patients with melanoma of the head and neck.
- Cutaneous head and neck melanoma
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy
ASJC Scopus subject areas