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Terhune MH, Swanson N, Johnson TM. Use of Chest Radiography in the Initial Evaluation of Patients With Localized Melanoma. Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(5):569–572. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archderm.134.5.569
To evaluate the use of an initial staging chest x-ray film in asymptomatic patients who present with localized primary cutaneous melanoma.
The staging workup of 1032 consecutive asymptomatic patients with localized melanoma was retrospectively reviewed via database chart review.
Regional melanoma referral center in an academic medical center.
The melanoma database identified 1032 asymptomatic patients with localized melanoma for retrospective review. Of the patients studied, 876 (85%) of 1032 had an initial staging chest x-ray film performed. A chest x-ray film was considered initial if performed within 6 months of melanoma diagnosis.
Main Outcome Measure
The rate of positive, negative, and suspicious findings of initial chest x-ray films.
One hundred thirty (15%) of 876 patients had suspicious findings necessitating additional workup. Based on follow-up radiologic findings, only 1 (0.1%) of 876 had a true-positive chest x-ray film demonstrating pulmonary metastasis.
The yield of detection of unsuspected pulmonary metastasis by chest x-ray film in the initial evaluation of asymptomatic patients with localized melanoma was exceedingly low (0.1%). Our results support the concept that routine chest radiograph screening in asymptomatic patients presenting with stage I and intermediate-thickness (1.5- to 4.0-mm) stage II melanoma is unlikely to yield true-positive findings of silent pulmonary metastasis. No definitive conclusions were drawn for the subset of patients with stage II thick melanoma (>4.0 mm) because of the small number of patients (n = 40) in our series. Prospective studies are necessary to ultimately define the yield of initial radiographs in asymptomatic patients with localized melanoma.
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