Clinicopathologic predictors of survival in patients with desmoplastic melanoma.
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Desmoplastic melanoma is a unique subtype of melanoma which typically affects older patients who often have comorbidities that can adversely affect survival. We sought to identify melanoma-specific factors influencing survival in patients with desmoplastic melanoma. METHODS: Retrospective review from 1993 to 2011 identified 316 patients with primary desmoplastic melanoma. Clinicopathologic characteristics were correlated with nodal status and outcome. RESULTS: Fifty-five patients (17.4%) had nodal disease: 33 had a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy and 22 developed nodal recurrences (no sentinel lymph node biopsy or false-negative sentinel lymph node biopsy). Nodal disease occurred more often in younger patients and in cases with mixed compared with pure histology (26.7% vs. 14.6%); both of these variables significantly predicted nodal status on multivariable analysis (p<0.05). After a median follow-up of 5.3 years, recurrence developed in 87 patients (27.5%), and 111 deaths occurred. The cause of death was known in 79 cases, with 47 deaths (59.5%) being melanoma-related. On multivariable analysis, Breslow thickness, mitotic rate 1/mm(2) and nodal status significantly predicted melanoma-specific survival (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Nodal status predicts melanoma-specific survival in patients with desmoplastic melanoma. However, since patients with desmoplastic melanoma represent an older population, and a considerable proportion of deaths are not melanoma-related (40.5%), comorbidities should be carefully considered in making staging and treatment decisions in this population.