Different protocols have been used to follow up melanoma patients in stage I-II. However, there is no consensus on the complementary tests that should be requested or the appropriate intervals between visits. Our aim is to compare an ultrasound-based follow-up with a clinical follow-up.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Analysis of two prospectively collected cohorts of melanoma patients in stage IB-IIA from two tertiary referral centres in Barcelona (clinical-based follow-up [C-FU]) and Turin (ultrasound-based follow-up [US-FU]). Kaplan-Meier curves were used to evaluate distant metastases-free survival (DMFS), disease-free interval (DFI), nodal metastases-free survival (NMFS) and melanoma-specific survival (MSS).
A total of 1149 patients in the American Joint Committee on Cancer stage IB and IIA were included in this study, of which 554 subjects (48%) were enrolled for a C-FU, and 595 patients (52%) received a protocolised US-FU. The median age was 53.8 years (interquartile range [IQR] 41.5-65.2) with a median follow-up time of 4.14 years (IQR 1.2-7.6). During follow-up, 69 patients (12.5%) in C-FU and 72 patients (12.1%) in US-FU developed disease progression. Median time to relapse for the first metastatic site was 2.11 years (IQR 1.14-4.04) for skin metastases, 1.32 (IQR 0.57-3.29) for lymph node metastases and 2.84 (IQR 1.32-4.60) for distant metastases. The pattern of progression and the total proportion of metastases were not significantly different (P = .44) in the two centres. No difference in DFI, DMFS, NMFS and MSS was found between the two cohorts.
Ultrasound-based follow-up does not increase the survival of melanoma patients in stage IB-IIA.