Differences across the sexes include epidemiological trends, distribution of clinical features and prognostic relevance in melanoma patients. The aims of this single-institution hospital-based cohort study were as follows: to assess the trends over time of the male/female ratio; to analyse the clinicopathologic features according to sex and their modifications following the introduction in 1999 of sentinel lymph node biopsy; to ascertain the metastatic pathways across sexes and the prognostic role of sex in the disease-free interval (DFI), disease-specific survival (DSS) and survival after recurrence. The patient population included 4310 stage I-II melanoma patients, diagnosed, treated and followed up in our institution from 1975. Patients were divided into two groups on the basis of the introduction of sentinel lymph node biopsy in 1999. A female prevalence was observed until 1999; thereafter, the male/female ratio approached 1 (period 1999-2003), with a subsequent increasing trend suggesting a potential male prevalence. Longer DFI and DSS were observed after 1999 and men showed greater improvement compared with women. In multivariate analyses, sex showed a lower impact on DFI and survival after recurrence following the introduction on sentinel lymph node biopsy. No sex-related differences in terms of DSS were observed before and after 1999 among patients with melanoma located on the trunk. However, among patients with primary lesions not located on the trunk, sex maintained a significant prognostic role in both groups. The results of this study suggest that in the last few years, the prognosis of men could have improved more than that in women. The changing surgical/therapeutic interventions can influence sex disparities in melanoma.
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