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Management of primary and metastasized melanoma in Germany in the time period 1976–2005: an analysis of the Central Malignant Melanoma Registry of the German Dermatological Society

Schwager, Silke S.a; Leiter, Ulrikea; Buettner, Petra G.h; Voit, Christianeb; Marsch, Wolfgangc; Gutzmer, Ralfd; Näher, Helmute; Gollnick, Haraldf; Bröcker, Eva Bettinag; Garbe, Clausa h

doi: 10.1097/CMR.0b013e3282f623f1

This study analysed the changes of excision margins in correlation with tumour thickness as recorded over the last three decades in Germany. The study also evaluated surgical management in different geographical regions and treatment options for metastasized melanoma. A total of 42 625 patients with invasive primary cutaneous melanoma, recorded by the German Central Malignant Melanoma Registry between 1976 and 2005 were included. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to investigate time trends of excision margins adjusted for tumour thickness. Excision margins of 5.0 cm were widely used in the late 1970s but since then have been replaced by smaller margins that are dependent on tumour thickness. In the case of primary melanoma, one-step surgery dominated until 1985 and was mostly replaced by two-step excisions since the early 1990s. In eastern Germany, one-step management remained common until the late 1990s. During the last three decades loco-regional metastases were predominantly treated by surgery (up to 80%), whereas systemic therapy decreased. The primary treatment of distant metastases has consistently been systemic chemotherapy. This descriptive retrospective study revealed a significant decrease in excision margins to a maximum of 2.00 cm. A significant trend towards two-step excisions in primary cutaneous melanoma was observed throughout Germany. Management of metastasized melanoma showed a tendency towards surgical procedures in limited disease and an ongoing trend to systemic treatment in advanced disease.

aDepartment of Dermatology, Skin Cancer Program, Central Malignant Melanoma Registry of the German Dermatological Society, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen

bDepartment of Dermatology, University of Berlin (Charité), Berlin

cDepartment of Dermatology, University of Halle, Halle

dDepartment of Dermatology, University of Hannover, Hannover

eDepartment of Dermatology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg

fDepartment of Dermatology, University of Magdeburg, Magdeburg

gDepartment of Dermatology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

hSchool of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Correspondence to Claus Garbe, MD, Professor of Dermatology, Head, Division of Dermatologic Oncology, Department of Dermatology, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen, Liebermeisterstr. 25, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany

Tel: +49 7071 29 87110; fax: +49 7071 29 5187;


Received 3 July 2007 Accepted 22 December 2007

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.