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Should Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Status Guide Adjuvant Radiation Therapy in Patients With Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.adro.2021.100764
PurposeRadiation of the draining lymph node basin remains controversial for Merkel cell carcinoma, particularly in the era of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB).
Methods and materialsBased on a 20-year experience using SLNB-guided adjuvant radiation therapy (RT), we conducted a retrospective review of clinically node-negative patients testing 2 hypotheses: (1) whether nodal RT could be safely omitted in SLNB-negative Merkel cell carcinoma and (2) whether the excised primary site should always be radiated. Clinically node-positive patients were excluded.
ResultsAmong 57 clinically node-negative patients who underwent SLNB and wide local excision (WLE), 42 (74%) had a negative SLNB, and 15 (26%) had a positive SLNB. At a median follow-up of 43 months (range, 5-182), SLNB-negative patients irradiated to the primary site had improved 4-year disease-specific survival (100% vs 65%, P = .008), local recurrence-free survival (100% vs 76%, P = .009), and distant recurrence-free survival (100% vs 75%, P = .008), but not overall survival (87.5% vs 57.7%, P = .164) compared with SLNB-positive patients receiving comprehensive RT. Among SLNB-negative patients treated with WLE only, 67% (6/9) had a disease relapse, half of which were local relapses (33%).
ConclusionsIn this single-institution retrospective review, after negative SLNB and WLE, RT given only to the primary site provided 100% disease control without a need for nodal RT. Among SLNB-negative patients who had WLE, omission of postoperative primary-site RT was associated with 67% cancer relapse, of which half was local.
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