Utility of Follow-up Tests for Detecting Recurrent Disease in Patients With Malignant Melanomas

Matthias Weiss, Charles L. Loprinzi, Edward T. Creagan, R. J. Dalton, Paul Novotny, Judith R. O’fallon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


To determine the effectiveness of follow-up tests for signaling recurrences in patients with intermediate- and high-risk malignant melanomas treated with curative intention. Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data. North Central Cancer Treatment Group. A total of 261 patients with resected local (≥1.69 mm) and regional nodal malignant melanomas who were enrolled in a single prospective adjuvant trial were studied. All patients were scheduled to be followed up monthly for 2 months, then every 2 months for the first year, every 4 months the second year, every 6 months the next 3 years, and annually thereafter, with each visit consisting of a history, physical examination, complete blood cell count, blood chemistry panel, and a chest x-ray. Of the 145 evaluable patients who developed recurrent melanomas, 99 patients (68%) developed symptoms that signaled the diagnosis of recurrent disease. Physical examination of asymptomatic patients led to the diagnosis of recurrent disease in 37 patients (26%). The other nine patients (6%) with recurrent disease had abnormal chest x-rays. Laboratory results were never a sole indicator of recurrent disease. The majority of recurrences following resection of primary melanomas are discovered by history and/or physical examination despite the frequent use of other follow-up tests. The present data indicate that routine blood analyses and chest x-rays have limited value in the postoperative follow-up of patients with resected intermediate- and high-risk melanomas. (JAMA. 1995;274:1703-1705).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1705
Number of pages3
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number21
StatePublished - Dec 6 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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