Current management of melanoma patients with nodal metastases

Dale Han, Alexander C.J. van Akkooi, Richard J. Straker, Adrienne B. Shannon, Giorgos C. Karakousis, Lin Wang, Kevin B. Kim, Douglas Reintgen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The management of melanoma patients with nodal metastases has undergone dramatic changes over the last decade. In the past, the standard of care for patients with a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) was a completion lymph node dissection (CLND), while patients with palpable macroscopic nodal disease underwent a therapeutic lymphadenectomy in cases with no evidence of systemic spread. However, studies have shown that SLN metastases present as a spectrum of disease, with certain SLN-based factors being prognostic of and correlated with outcomes. Furthermore, the results of key clinical trials demonstrate that CLND provides no survival benefit over nodal observation in positive SLN patients, while other clinical trials have shown that adjuvant immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy or targeted therapy after CLND is associated with a recurrence-free survival benefit. Given the efficacy of these systemic therapies in the adjuvant setting, these agents are now being evaluated and utilized as neoadjuvant treatments in patients with regionally-localized or resectable metastatic melanoma. Multiple options now exist to treat melanoma patients with nodal disease, and determining the best treatment course for a particular case requires an in-depth knowledge of current data and an informed discussion with the patient. This review will provide an overview of the various options for treating melanoma patients with nodal metastases and will discuss the data that supported the development of these treatment options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-199
Number of pages19
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Adjuvant systemic therapy
  • Completion lymph node dissection
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitor and targeted therapy
  • Melanoma
  • Neoadjuvant systemic therapy
  • Sentinel lymph node metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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