(HealthDay News) — New research suggests that surgical removal of melanoma that has metastasized may help patients live more than twice as long as those who receive only medical therapy. The study was scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons, held from Oct. 4 to 8 in Chicago.
The study was led by Gary Deutsch, M.D., M.P.H., now a surgical oncologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. His team tracked outcomes for 1,600 patients, treated at some point between 1969 and 2014. All of the patients in the study had potentially operable melanoma that had spread to the abdomen. The sole site of abdominal cancer was the liver in 697 patients, the gastrointestinal tract in 336, adrenal glands in 138, spleen in 109, and pancreas in 38. Another 305 patients had multiple cancer sites in the abdomen.
Nearly one in four patients had surgery to remove the metastases. Surgery was performed alone, or in combination with drug treatment or radiofrequency ablation. Patients who underwent the surgery lived more than twice as long as those who received drug treatment alone — 18 months versus seven months, on average, the researchers reported. Patients with melanoma that had spread to the gastrointestinal tract and had complete, curative surgery had the longest average survival, the investigators found, at more than two years.
In a news release from the American College of Surgeons, Deutsch said that surgery “can really make a difference in the patients with gastrointestinal tract metastases. The operation can be performed laparoscopically, so it is minimally invasive.”