Methods: Data were extracted on patients with T1 cutaneous melanoma who underwent SLNB between 2005 and 2018 at five tertiary centers in Europe and Canada. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of SLNB positivity.
Results: Overall, 676 patients were analyzed. Most patients had one or more high-risk features: Breslow thickness 0.8–1 mm in 78.1% of patients, ulceration in 8.3%, mitotic rate > 1/mm2 in 42.5%, Clark’s level ≥ 4 in 34.3%, lymphovascular invasion in 1.4%, nodular histology in 2.9%, and absence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in 14.4%. Fifty-three patients (7.8%) had a positive SLNB. Breslow thickness and mitotic rate independently predicted SLNB positivity. The odds of positive SLNB increased by 50% for each 0.1 mm increase in thickness past 0.7 mm (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–2.13) and by 22% for each mitosis per mm2 (95% CI 1.06–1.41). Patients who had one excised node (vs. two or more) were three times less likely to have a positive SLNB (3.6% vs. 9.6%; odds ratio 2.9 [1.3–7.7]).
Conclusions: Our international multi-institutional data confirm that Breslow thickness and mitotic rate independently predict SLNB positivity in patients with T1 melanoma. Even within this highly selected population, the number needed to diagnose is 13:1 (7.8%), indicating that more work is required to identify additional predictors of sentinel node positivity.