Skip to main content

20-03-2017 | Melanoma | Article

Quality of Life Following Sentinel Node Biopsy for Primary Cutaneous Melanoma: Health Economic Implications

Annals of Surgical Oncology

Authors: PhD, MScMed (Clin Epi) (Hons) Rachael L. Morton, PhD Anh Tran, BSc (Hons), MBBS Johan Yusof Vessey, BEcon Nick Rowbotham, PhD, MSc, CStat Julie Winstanley, MBBS, FRACS Kerwin Shannon, MBBS, MD, FRACS Andrew J. Spillane, MBBS, DPhil, FRACS Jonathan Stretch, MBBS, MD, FRACS, FACS John F. Thompson, MBBS, MS, FRACS Robyn P.-M. Saw

Publisher: Springer International Publishing



Sentinel node biopsy (SNB) is commonly performed in contemporary melanoma management, however there is a paucity of long-term quality of life (QoL) estimates required for economic evaluation of this treatment.


A single-center, prospective, cross-sectional study of adults with American Joint Committee on Cancer stage I/II/IIIA melanoma of the limbs, trunk, or neck who had undergone wide excision and SNB, but not complete regional node dissection, was undertaken. Limb volume was measured using perometry, with lymphedema defined as a ≥10% volume increase in the ipsilateral limb compared with the contralateral limb. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) questionnaire measured QoL. Associations between patient and treatment characteristics were assessed using linear regression.


Among 694 patients (median time from SNB of 37 months), 14 (2%) had objectively measured lymphedema (i.e. an increase in limb volume of ≥10%). Of 687 stage I/II patients with complete QoL data, the mean weighted QoL was 0.745 (standard deviation 0.04) on a 0–1 scale (i.e. death to full health). In multivariable analysis, weighted QoL was 0.0004 higher for each year of increasing age (p = 0.001); 0.011 lower for females (p = 0.001), 0.018 lower following post-SNB limb trauma (p = 0.002); 0.252 lower for patients who perceived a large increase in limb size (p = 0.015); and 0.027 lower with self-reported difficulty in walking, running, or climbing stairs (p = 0.043).


Our data suggest that very few patients treated at our institution had lymphedema in the long-term following SNB, with weighted QoL strongly associated with perceived rather than actual changes in limb size.

Please log in to get access to this content

Related topics