The meaning of screening: detection of brain metastasis in the adjuvant setting for stage III melanoma

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BACKGROUND: The incidence of melanoma is increasing and 37% of patients with metastatic melanoma eventually have brain metastasis (BM). Currently, there is no consensus on screening for BM in patients with resected stage III melanoma. However, given the high incidence of BM, routine screening magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is considered in patients with completely resected stage III melanoma before the start of adjuvant treatment. The aim of this study was to assess the yield of screening for BM in these patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A single-center cohort study was carried out in the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, a large tertiary referral center for patients with melanoma. Eligible patients with complete resection of stage III melanoma and a screening MRI of the brain, made within 12 weeks after resection and before adjuvant treatment (programmed cell death protein 1 inhibitors, dabrafenib-trametinib), available between 1 August 2018 and 1 January 2021, were included.

RESULTS: A total of 202 patients were included. Eighteen (8.9%) of 202 patients had extracranial metastasis at screening. Two (1.1%) of the remaining 184 patients had BM at screening, resulting in a switch from adjuvant treatment to ipilimumab-nivolumab. At a median follow-up of 21.2 months, BM was detected in another 4 (2.4%) of 166 patients who started with adjuvant treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: The yield of screening MRI of the brain is low after complete resection of stage III melanoma, before the start of adjuvant treatment. Therefore, routine screening MRI is not recommended in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100600
Pages (from-to)100600
Number of pages5
JournalESMO Open
Issue number6
Early online date17 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Daniël den Hoed Foundation and the Erasmus MC Foundation (no grant number).

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s)


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